3 Tips For Exercising When You’re On Oxygen Therapy

If you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, exercise may be the last thing you want to do.

You’re already tired to begin with, so the idea of working up a sweat probably isn’t too appealing. Plus, when you’re short of breath, doing something that makes it even harder to breathe seems like it would do more harm than good.

However, the COPD Foundation shares that, as long as your doctor says it’s okay, exercise is encouraged. Not to reverse your lung disease, because it can’t, but because it can “change the way you feel, breathe, and function,” ultimately giving you a higher quality of life.

Admittedly, if your COPD is advanced enough that you’re on oxygen, this may make it harder to engage in physical activity, but it certainly doesn’t make it impossible to get some fitness into your life.

Here are three things you can do (after you get your doctor’s approval, of course) to build your strength and endurance, even if you have an oxygen tank.

1. Do Leg Exercises

Do leg exercises that don’t require you to move around, such as leg extensions or calf raises. These movements can help you build muscle in your lower body so it’s easier to get around.

2. Do Arm Exercises

Do arm exercises that don’t require a lot of movement, like bicep curls and triceps extensions. You’ll likely find it easier to move your oxygen tank over time because you’ll get stronger.

3. Do Slow, Low-impact Cardiovascular Exercises

Perform slow, low-impact cardiovascular exercises to build your endurance without being too taxing on your lungs. Some options to consider include yoga, tai chi, or riding a stationary bike at slower speeds.

Be sure to continue to breathe slowly during your exercises and, if you start to feel worse, stop immediately and don’t work out again until you see your doctor for clearance.

Also, when getting approval to exercise, your doctor may suggest that you change the oxygen flow rate during your workout sessions. However, you should never do this without talking to your doctor first and being told what that flow rate change should be.