As a patient with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you may purposely try to avoid exerting yourself because of being afraid of exacerbating your symptoms such as breathlessness. Though this is a common fear among patients, exercising is actually extremely beneficial for your treatment. The proper exercise routine can strengthen your heart, cardiovascular system, improve your sleep, and most importantly release tension and stress. The benefits don't end there, in fact pushing yourself to exercise will even help your body use oxygen more effectively and efficiently. Which is why we will be discussing 3 non-strenuous exercise categories that have been shown to provide results, and improve the overall well being in patients with COPD.
Improving Your COPD with 3 Exercise Categories
These exercises are something that you can do in your down time at home, stretching will help reduce the occurrence of stiffness and protect your muscles and joints from potential injuries while exercising. Stretching is done before any physical activity which prepares your muscles for activity, as well as increasing your overall range of movement and increasing flexibility.
Stretching Exercises Include:
- Chair Exercises
Yoga and Pilates are both incredible ways to stretch and strengthen your muscles, as well as improve your breathing and overall coordination.
Aerobic exercises are a fantastic way of improving your cardiovascular system which will help improve the way your body uses oxygen, simply going for a walk everyday will improve both your endurance and strengthen your muscles. With time and effort aerobic exercises will lower your heart rate and blood pressure, your breathing will also greatly improve since your heart will be conditioned and won't have to work as rigorously when exercising. The same goes for breathing while resting, while your endurance is increasing you will also find it easier to breathe during exercise and also at night.
Aerobic Exercises Include:
- Jumping Rope
- Water Aerobics
The respiratory benefits of exercising are numerous, but they also help you:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Lower blood pressure
- Ward off potential illness
- Lower the risks of obesity, heart disease, strokes, and even certain types of cancer
- Improve your mood
- Live longer
This type of exercise is done by repeatedly lifting weights which contracts your muscles, this is done until the muscles become tired. However that does not mean that you should exceed your personal limits when lifting weights, be sure to never over exert yourself and remember it's not the number of reps you do but instead fully completing your reps with accuracy is what builds strength. When exercising aim for routines that strengthen the upper body, these are extremely beneficial for patients with COPD since they help strengthen the respiratory muscles.
Benneficial Strengthening Exercises Include:
- Bicep Curls
- Side Lift
- Leg Raise
Pay Attention to Breathing while Exercising
The most important thing while exercising is to pay close attention to your breathing, making sure to breathe in through your nose and out your mouth with pursed lips. This will warm the inhaled air before hitting your lungs, while providing resistance during exhalation. Secondly you want to make sure to breathe slowly so you can conserve your oxygen. If at any point you experience unbearable breathlessness then stop what you are doing and sit down, when this occurs you can use on of the following breathing techniques:
- Pursed Lip Breathing
- Diaphragmatic Breathing
Everything in life worth achieving takes hard work, exercise included, so though it may be difficult and discouraging at first keep at it. The more you push yourself through each of these exercise categories the healthier you will be! If you have any questions about how to complete a specific exercise routine or wondering if one would be right for you, then speak with your respiratory specialist so the two of you can design a designated exercise routine.