The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Battling Stress with COPD
Stress is an agonizing emotion that can manipulate your health. Chronic stress is a type of long term tension that can wear down your body causing you to feel worse than you should. Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) experience this first hand when it comes to managing with stress on top of their condition. Stress enhances patient’s troubles with COPD due to it causing a weakening of their immune system. This can cause more frequent flare ups, which attribute to shortness of breath, wheezing and tightness in the chest. These symptoms have left some sufferers to research Tai Chi and COPD.
Manage COPD Stress with Tai Chi
Finding a way to relieve stress when dealing with COPD is key to sustaining good health. Tai Chi is an easy, graceful exercise that is highly effective for reducing stress levels. It is known as a Chinese tradition that is filled with a series of slow movements accompanied by deep breathing. These exercises flow together causing a constant motion. The movements are light on the joints causing minimal stress on the muscles. When performing these exercises, your soft tissue stretches which enables the release of tension built up in your body.
Tai Chi Made Easy
Tai Chi is extremely flexible; it can be performed individually or in a class room setting. Although, it is more effective when you have an instructor by your side observing your moves. Having an instructor works to your benefit because it guarantees that you are conducting the exercise in a safe and accurate manner. Below are a few Tai Chi exercises that can help calm your COPD flare ups:
Touch the Sky
- Sit up straight in a comfortable chair. Place your hands in your lap with your palms turned upward and your fingertips pointing toward one another.
- Inhale slowly and deeply, raise your hands to chest level in front of you, turn your palms outward and lift your hands above your head. Do not reach too far with your arms; keep your elbows relaxed and slightly bent.
- Exhale slowly and deeply, relax your arms further and gently lower them to your sides. At the end of the breath, return your hands to the starting position with your palms turned upward.
- Repeat this exercise up to 10 times.
- Stand with your feet parallel and slightly wider than shoulder-width distance apart. Relax your shoulders and let your arms hang loosely.
- Bring your hands in front of your body by your pubic bone, with your fingers pointing down toward the floor.
- Inhale and raise your arms up the center of your body and over your head, fingers pointing up. Stretch toward the ceiling and arch your spine slightly backward.
- Exhale and slowly bend forward to the floor, moving your hands down the center of your body. Bend forward from your hip joint, allowing your arms to hang loosely in front of you.
- Inhale and return to your starting posture.
Please take caution when performing these movements. Make sure you have talked your doctor before performing them your own or with an instructor. If you use supplemental oxygen or inhalers, please keep them by your side while practicing these poses.