COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, affects more than 16 million American adults, and this number is still increasing.
This chronic disease makes it difficult to breathe, which means many patients believe that having COPD and exercise as part of their lifestyle is out of the question.
There are many benefits to physical activity, and having COPD doesn’t mean that you can’t participate. Read on to learn more about how you can enjoy and maintain an active lifestyle with COPD.
How Exercise Can Help
It’s important to talk with your doctor before starting any exercise plan if you have COPD. There are many incredible health benefits to doing exercise that will help to improve your symptoms and your overall sense of wellness.
Once you and your doctor have developed a plan, you’ll start to notice these benefits increase over time. Exercising can improve the body’s use of oxygen, which may also help to improve and increase your energy levels.
A regular exercise regimen can also reduce stress and anxiety and help you get better, more restful sleep. You’ll notice improved muscle strength and less shortness of breath over time, too.
One other benefit of exercise is an improved feeling of self-confidence and self-esteem. This can have amazing positive benefits for your mental state as well.
As you exercise, it helps your blood circulation which in turn helps your heart pump oxygen through the bloodstream and into your body. Your respiratory muscles will also get stronger, which can help make it easier to breathe.
COPD and Exercise: Develop a Plan
In general, it’s safe to exercise if you have COPD as long as you do not experience symptoms like chest pain or nausea. If you develop those feelings while you exercise, stop immediately and consult your doctor.
Use a portable oxygen concentrator like the inogen one g4 to help you with pulmonary rehabilitation. This is a great way to keep you active with COPD as you learn more about breathing techniques and how to monitor lung function.
Start your exercise plan off with some simple stretches to relax you and improve flexibility. When you stretch, you’re warming up and cooling down your body before and after exercise. Try to hold gentle stretches for around 10 to 30 seconds at a time as you slowly breathe in and out, repeating as needed.
Once you feel comfortable, you can move on to aerobic exercise. This will help to improve your heart and lung health and allow your body to use oxygen more effectively. Some examples of aerobic exercise you can try to include walking, swimming, or bike riding.
To make your muscles stronger, work on some resistance training. This will give your entire body a boost and make you feel stronger each day.
You don’t have to go to the gym every day to do resistance training or any other form of exercise. Use hand weights or resistance bands at home to practice. Talk to a respiratory therapist or your doctor for some recommendations for at-home exercises you can try.
Ideally, you should try to exercise at least three times per week for at least 30 minutes at a time. Work your way slowly toward this goal and remember that any small progress with COPD and exercise together is still a step in the right direction. Steady progress is the key to a healthy life.
Other Helpful Tips
If you’re using supplemental oxygen, COPD and exercise are still possible. You may need to perform your exercises with the oxygen as you adjust the flow rate whenever you do any form of physical activity.
Always take deep breaths before you start exercising, and then exhale out during the most difficult parts. Remember to take slow, paced breaths and don’t rush through anything.
Ask a family member or friend to exercise with you as a form of motivation and moral support. If you know someone else who has COPD, you can exercise together to help each other stay accountable and connected.
When exercising at home, feel free to turn on the television or listen to music to help you stay focused. Walking outdoors is a wonderful way to get fresh air and enjoy some time outside in nature.
Always remember to pace yourself and never push yourself too hard. Consult with a physical therapist, your primary care doctor, or a respiratory therapist for help and advice.
If you need a place to exercise besides your home, you can join a local community center, fitness center, or the YMCA. Enroll in classes to help you stay motivated and keep on track. Yoga is another great way to get exercise while helping you stay flexible and relieve stress.
Doing exercise with COPD is possible with a little bit of patience and perseverance. Remember to monitor your breathing and check your oxygen flow to help you exercise safely. Start slow and work your way toward more advanced, achievable goals.
Maintaining an Active Lifestyle with COPD
It is possible to enjoy physical activity if you have COPD. There are many ways you can experience COPD and exercise at the same time with some help from your doctor or therapist.
Focus on your breathing and make sure you stretch before doing any kind of exercise. Walk, ride your bike, or try some weight training to get your body fit and healthy as well as strong.
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