The official blog of the Lung Institute.
If you are having difficulties breathing or catching your breath, your first instinct may be to avoid exercise and exertion. But did you know? It’s actually good for you to do some exercise.
It sounds counterintuitive. If you’re having trouble breathing, as people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) do, you might think it best to rest. But exercise can be very beneficial for you. So how important is exercise for COPD sufferers?
The Importance of Exercise for COPD Sufferers
If you have COPD, exercise helps your body use oxygen better. The key is to do it, but not to overdo it.
A new report has just come out about COPD and exercise that says staying active could help COPD patients stay out of the hospital. Research from Kaiser Permanente and published in Annals of the American Thoracic Society found that the risk of readmission to the hospital for COPD patients was lower in patients who exercised every week.
Exercising patients were 34 percent less likely to be readmitted in the hospital after 30 days. Exercising 150 minutes per week, which is the equivalent of 30 minutes per day 5 days a week, helped COPD patients stay out of the hospital. This research is backed up by a report in Respirology that also found a daily exercise regimen can help COPD patients avoid hospitalization.
COPD patients are less likely to exercise regularly because of their difficulty breathing. You may feel out of breath just walking around the block. But if you keep walking, this feeling could go away. In fact, that out of breath feeling may not be dangerous at all.
Walking or other physical activity can improve how well your body uses oxygen. This is important because COPD causes you to use more energy to breathe, as compared to someone without COPD.
There are many benefits to exercise including improving your overall breathing, strengthening your heart, lowering blood pressure, improving your energy and improving circulation. Along with these many physical benefits, there are mental benefits as well. Exercise can help you have a better mental outlook and attitude and even feel more relaxed.
Many COPD patients are either overweight or underweight, and exercise can also help you maintain a healthy weight. Whether it’s walking outdoors or on a treadmill, or a light weight routine, numerous benefits of exercise can be reaped from only 30 minutes per day. Stretching exercises and yoga are also low-impact exercises suited for COPD patients.
A Word of Precaution
It is important to Work with your physician and/or pulmonologist to decide what type of exercise and level is right for you. Remember to start small, and not to overexert yourself.
Physicians can also recommend a pulmonary rehabilitation program, where you can learn breathing techniques to try during physical activity. There are even breathing exercises you can do to help improve lung capacity.