The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Start Where You Are
Despite the difficulty of starting an exercise program, it’s essential to do something regularly to promote good circulation and, most importantly, to maintain lung capacity. For people who suffer from degenerative lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the very thought of Training for a 5k with COPD may seem completely out of reach, but there’s no need to try to run 5 kilometers the first time you strap on those new running shoes. Let’s talk about starting at 0. Let’s start from the couch.
Starting slowly is key to any successful beginner’s exercise program. It’s important at first to build a bit of morale and enthusiasm. Grit and determination might get you out there to begin with, but enjoying the process is what will keep you doing it day after day. Maybe the first step is a slow walk around the block, or climbing a flight of stairs instead of taking the elevator. Whatever it is, enjoy yourself. Listen to the birds. Feel the breeze. Don’t overdo it, and celebrate the small victories. This is how Couch-to-5k programs are designed to work.
Acclimating to Exercise
The secret to the effectiveness of Couch-to-5k programs is gently becoming familiar, or re-familiarizing yourself, with how your body reacts to exercise. At no point must the participant experience an abrupt increase in the level of effort they’re expected to expend. If you can walk, you can do this. The only deadlines and limits are set by you. The goals are your goals, and they may be anything from achieving the ability to walk for a few minutes without feeling fatigued to becoming a marathon runner.
Most couch-to-5k programs begin with a short walk, then progress to short jogging sessions interspersed with short rest periods. The idea is not to push you so hard that you get injured or abandon the program out of frustration. Josh Clarke’s “Couch to 5k,” or “C25K,” is probably the most popular 5k training program. Thousands of people worldwide have followed it since its introduction in 1996. A 5K training program should deliver results that you can track. There’s nothing more encouraging than seeing yourself progress in a measurable way.
From Zero to Hero
If you’d like to make positive changes in your level of fitness, a 5k training program could be the right first step to get moving and start feeling better. The best programs are designed for people who don’t necessarily feel able to simply go out for a run, who haven’t been physically active for years, or even decades, and who don’t care to join an intense fitness program that may leave them feeling worse than they began. For those with diminished lung capacity, the couch-to-5k is a good option because it is designed to start at the level of someone lying on a sofa with a TV remote in their hand.
Even the lightest of exercise supports the cardiovascular system. Lungs and heart work as a team, and keeping them healthy is ideal. Exercising can make you feel more out of breath, but usually only temporarily. If a feeling of breathlessness persists, talk to your doctor about what exercise is appropriate for you.
Making the decision to improve your health by starting an exercise program can be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. Being physically fit makes every aspect of life better and is one of the most basic ways to improve your quality of life. Before beginning any exercise program, consult with your physician.
Another way to improve your quality of life is to seek treatment for your lung disease. The Lung Institute offers stem cell therapy that may slow the progression of lung disease by promoting healing in the lungs. If you or a loved one suffers from lung disease and want to learn more about treatment options, contact the Lung Institute online, or call (800) 729-3065.