November is national chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) awareness month, a month dedicated to spreading awareness about a life altering lung disease in the hopes of getting people to get tested sooner rather than later, educate the masses on the tell tale signs of the disease and in the end to one day find a cure for such a nasty disease. Since this month is all about educating the masses, we thought it would be wise to first target patients and the way they view and actually exercise. Often times patient are afraid of exercising for many reasons including they simply don't feel up to it, afraid of worsening symptoms, or the simple troubles of walking across the room stray them away from as much physical activity as possible.
Today we will be talking about numerous strengthening exercises that you can do from the comfort of your home that don't irritate COPD symptoms to extreme levels, the only thing you need is a chair, your confidence, and the will to improve your quality of life. The context of strengthening is a little different when talking about COPD, typically you define and associate strengthening with lifting heavy weights in repetition. Though in a COPD context, strengthening is defined by the ability of a muscle to do work and not by the size or tone of it. Be sure to clear the following strengthening exercises with your physician before performing, and you should always give yourself 5 to 10 minutes to warm-up and stretch your muscles to avoid straining and injuring yourself.
Easy Ways to Strengthen Your Muscles to Improve Your COPD
For the following exercises you will only need your dedication, your oxygen concentrator near by in case breathlessness takes over, and lastly a chair.
Strengthening the Neck Muscles:
- Set yourself up in a seated position
- Straighten your back
- Extend your neck muscles, moving them in a big circular motion
- While in a seated position, raise both arms
- Next, lower and raise your chin while bending your chest backwards
- Perform this multiple times
- Sit on a chair
- Bend your elbows lightly
- Then, very smoothly rotate your shoulders
- While in a seated position, get your arms and hands loosened up
- Next, shake your arms and hands
- Continue doing this, rotating them side to side and front to back
- While sitting, bend you back backwards against the chair
- Expand your chest upwards
- Then straighten out your arms towards the ground
- Continue this motion by bending your upper body forward and repeating
Improving Ankle Strength:
- When sitting put your feet together in front of you in the air
- Pull your toes towards your body and release
- Repeat for a few minutes or until you feel a slight burn in your ankles
Each of these strengthening exercises should be repeated multiple times, if possible you should aim to workout on a daily basis for 20 - 30 minutes, unless otherwise recommended by your doctor. If you cannot exercise for the time recommended by your doctor, don't give up! The more effort you put in now the better your results will be in the long run. You could also ask a friend or family member to perform these routines with you so you can have a little extra moral support, because like the saying goes, a little goes a long way. Comment and share some of your go to exercise routines!
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