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Can Exercise Improve Lung Function?

9 Mar 2016
| Under COPD, Excercise, Lifestyle, Lung Disease | Posted by | 28 Comments
Can Exercise Improve Lung Function?

Better lung function can be beneficial to all, but can exercise get you there?

For people with a chronic lung disease, the thought of improving lung function is a recurring one. Life with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can be physically exhausting, leaving those who suffer from it breathless from simple activities such as getting dressed or taking a shower. However, it has been found that regular exercise can have a wide variety of positive benefits on health and well-being. So, Can Exercise Improve Lung Function?

With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to give a definitive answer on just how exercise can be used to affect pulmonary function.

The Effects of Exercise on the Lungs

Can Exercise Improve Lung Function?

Although many associate exercise with losing weight or promoting a healthy heart, it has been found that regular physical activity can improve quality of life in those with or without a lung condition. In this sense, any physical activity counts as exercise, from gardening to cleaning to taking a walk outside.

For the average adult, it’s recommended that you do 30 minutes of moderate exercise for at least five days per week. This can be as simple as walking fast enough until you’re moderately breathless. In exercise, two of your most important organs are in action: the lungs and the heart. The lungs bring oxygen into the body, providing energy, and removing carbon dioxide, while the heart pumps oxygen to the muscles being exercised.

Though exercise may leave you feeling ‘out of breath,’ you’ll not be ‘short of breath’. When you have reduced lung function, you use a large portion of your breathing reserve, which may be unpleasant but generally not dangerous.

While it may be tempting to avoid exercise, becoming less fit will ultimately make daily activities even harder. It’s important to remember to always talk with your doctor before starting or modifying your exercise regimen.

Pulmonary Benefits

Can Exercise Improve Lung Function?

As exercise begins to promote smoother blood flow and oxygen delivery, the body is able to function at a higher level. This means that the daily exercise of taking a shower or walking to the mailbox can be done with less effort as regular exercise continues. In comparison to someone who doesn’t exercise, an exerciser typically has a larger blood volume and a better ability to extract oxygen from the lungs and blood.

Lung Function and Lung Capacity

  • Lung Capacity– the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use.
  • Lung Function– a metric determined by how much air your lungs can hold, how quickly you can move air in and out of your lungs, and how well your lungs put oxygen into and remove carbon dioxide from your blood.

In short, lung capacity is how much air your body can use while lung function is how your body uses it.

So, Can Lung Function be Improved?

Can Exercise Improve Lung Function?

The short answer is no, once lung function is gone, it’s gone for good. However, lung capacity can be controlled and improved by 5 to 15 percent through aerobic workouts. Though exercise does not improve lung function, training can improve endurance and reduce breathlessness by increasing oxygen capacity. This is critical because those with COPD use more energy to breathe than those without.

Knowing When to Stop

Can Exercise Improve Lung Function?

Before beginning any strenuous exercise regimen, it’s important to have the approval and guidance of your primary physician. If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop immediately and rest until you feel comfortable.

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Pain
  • Pressure or pain in your chest, arm, neck, jaw or shoulder


Regular exercise can produce a number of favorable changes in the body, allowing it to work more efficiently. However, these improvements can only work to alleviate the symptoms of lung disease, in order to address the progression of the disease, stem cell therapy may be necessary.

As the scientific community continues to put their best minds to the task of solving the problems of the human body, the Lung Institute will continue to bring these advancements to the public with the hope of bettering quality of life for those who need it most.

If you’re looking to take control of your health, don’t wait. If you or a loved one suffers from COPD or another lung disease, the Lung Institute may be able to help with a variety of stem cell treatment options. Contact us at (800) 729-3065 today to find out if you qualify for stem cell therapy.

Looking for more information on Lung Function? We want to hear from you. Share your thoughts and comments on Can Exercise Improve Lung Function below.


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  20. Cameron Kennerly

    1 year ago

    Hello Lonnie,

    Your story is amazing Lonnie and we really appreciate you for sharing it. You are the fundamental reason for what we do here and hearing the return in your quality of life is nothing short of inspirational. Please keep us updated on your progress Lonnie and thank you so much again for sharing a piece of your life with us.


    -The Lung Institute

  21. Lonni Wambeke

    1 year ago

    I want to thank the lung institute for helping me. I have interstitial lung disease, and I had stem cell therapy on October 28, 2015 in Scottsdale. At my three month mark I was taken off oxygen during the day and cut down to 2 liters at night. The docs said they did not think I would walk out of the hospital in January 2015. So I am very thankful to the lung institute. I am back to mowing the grass, walking the mall, and doing what I want. Thank you lung institute for giving me my life back.

  22. Cameron Kennerly

    1 year ago

    Hello Judith,

    First and foremost we’d like to extend our deepest sympathies to you on your recent diagnosis. Lung disease can be a difficult illness to live but we applaud you for taking the first steps in improving your quality of life by seeking new information and reaching out. In response to your question, we would advise consulting with your primary physician on what they believe an adequate walking regimen would be given your current cardiovascular health. In general, walking is one of the most moderate forms of exercise one can undertake. However, always keep your own health in mind when pushing yourself physically. Start slow, and do only what feels comfortable and work up from there. If you have anymore questions regarding life with lung disease or stem cell treatment options, please feel free to reach out to us at (855) 313-1149 to speak with one of our qualified patient coordinators.


    -The Lung Institute

  23. Judith Mower

    1 year ago

    I am 68 years old. I was a smoker for many years (have not smoked for 14 years) and now have been diagnosed with severe emphysema. I’m finding it more and more difficult to take a short walk and more energy level is increasingly diminished. I’ve been told to try to remain active but I’m concerned about the effect of increased activity on my heart. If I push myself to walk around the block, am I inviting undue strain on my heart muscle.

  24. Pingback: Lung Institute | The Benefits of Tai Chi

  25. Cameron Kennerly

    1 year ago

    Good Morning Piet,

    First and foremost we’d like to extend our deepest sympathies for the difficulty you’ve experienced living with lung disease, as well as thank you for your interest in stem cell therapy. It’s never too late to try to change your life or lifestyle. Please give us a call at (855) 313-1149 to speak with one of our patient coordinators today on stem cell treatment options, and what stem cell therapy could mean for your oxygen use.

    Thanks Piet and we look forward to hearing from you,

    -The Lung Institute

  26. piet beukes

    1 year ago

    I;AM 65 and 24\7 on oxygen ,Did smoke before sins 2003 on a machine.Looking for stem cell treatment if its possible.

  27. PB

    1 year ago

    Dear Linda,

    Thanks for your comment. At the Lung Institute, we focus on chronic lung diseases, such as COPD and pulmonary fibrosis, and how stem cell treatments could help promote the healing of lung tissue. If you’re interested in learning more about stem cell research for macular degeneration, try doing a Google search and reading articles written by credible sources. You can also try talking with your eye doctor about stem cell research for macular degeneration.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  28. Linda Ryall

    1 year ago

    I’m 68 and have macular degeneration wet in both eyes. I’ve heard there is stem cell research with mac deg. True? I’d love to hear about this possibility.

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* All treatments performed at Lung Institute utilize autologous stem cells, meaning those derived from a patient's own body. No fetal or embryonic stem cells are utilized in Lung Institute's procedures. Lung Institute aims to improve patients' quality of life and help them breathe easier through the use of autologous stem cell therapy. To learn more about how stem cells work for lung disease, click here.

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