The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Are you or your loved one diagnosed with COPD or another type of lung disease such as pulmonary fibrosis? No matter what the diagnosis, you want to keep your lungs healthy. There are a lot of things you can do to promote lung health. One way to keep the lungs healthy is exercise, which is obviously good for you whether you have lung disease or not.
Exercise to Help Your Lungs
Exercise, even the lightest form of exercise, supports the cardiovascular system. Your lungs and heart work together closely, and keeping them both healthy is ideal. People with COPD often have a difficult time moving around, but even a walk around the block is a great way to get some exercise. This helps improve lung capacity, and breathing rates increase during exercise. Exercising can make you feel more out of breath, but usually only temporarily. If it persists, talk to your doctor about what exercise is appropriate for you, but you should try to do some walking to see how you feel. The benefits of exercise are numerous for your lungs.
Having COPD means your lungs are not moving as much air in or out as they should be. Your lung capacity is diminished. Your pulmonologist will do a spirometry test to measure your lung function. This measures how much air you breathe out when you take deep breaths and then push the air out as forcefully as you can. Your score on a spirometry test helps determine how severe your COPD is.
There are ways to try and improve your lung function that you can try at home. Here are two great breathing exercises that could help to improve your lung function naturally:
Pursed-lips Breathing: Start by breathing in for two seconds through your nose with your mouth closed. Breathe out for four seconds with your lips pursed. If this is too long for you, just breathe out twice as long as you breathe in. You can use pursed-lips breathing when doing strenuous activity.
Diaphragmatic Breathing: Lie on your back. Bend your knees. Put one hand on your abdomen, below your ribcage and place the other hand on your chest. Inhale deeply through your nose for three seconds (your belly and lower ribs should rise, and chest remains still), tighten your stomach muscles and exhale for six seconds through slightly puckered lips.
Diaphragmatic breathing is not as easy as pursed-lips breathing, so take your time to build up your pulmonary strength. Be sure to ask your pulmonologist or breathing therapist to show you how to do it properly. It is meant to help you use the diaphragm correctly. Other benefits of diaphragmatic breathing include slowing your breath rate to decrease the work of breathing, and using less effort and energy to breathe.
Before beginning any kind of exercise program, it is essential that you consult with your physician first. If you or a loved one has COPD or other lung disease and want to learn more about treatment options, contact us or call (800) 729-3065.