We all know we should exercise; actually doing it is the hard part. We’re too tired. We don’t feel well. We can’t find the time. And many of us just find it boring!
If you have COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), you may think that you can’t exercise. After all, you already feel short of breath and weak! “Just getting dressed is an exercise!” Avoiding exercise can make things worse. The less you do, the less you are able to do. “I shower once a week, after all I don’t roll in the mud!”
Exercise, done correctly and safely, is one of the best ways to feel in control of your breathing and your day.
What is Pulmonary Rehab?
Pulmonary rehabilitation includes therapist guided education, exercise and strategies to keep you active in your daily routine.
When your lungs are weak they focus on getting oxygen to your organs. They don’t consider getting oxygen to the muscles, that’s too much work! Then you try to move and your muscles become sore, tight and weak.
It feels like an uphill battle, but it can be fought!
What Exercises Should I Do?
The first step to feeling better; focus on breathing. This can be an exercise in and of itself!
Sit tall and breathe deep. This helps build your “core” and gets the old air out of your lungs (carbon dioxide). Now your body can take in more oxygen. Doing this helps supply not only the organs but also all the muscles you need to walk and take care of yourself.
Once your muscles are fueled, you will feel more energized and able to exercise. Talk to your therapist about a guided home exercise program best suited for your body’s needs. These may include weights or bands or even fun in the local pool!
Exercises should start slow and may even be considered easy! Even if you think you can do more, take it slow and gradually increase over time. Your body will do better when eased into new activity. Overdoing may cause an “exacerbation” or negative changes in your lung function and set you back.
When you’ve reached the point that you’re feeling better and breathing better, don’t stop. Keep it up at least three days a week.
Will My Lungs Get Better?
Although we cannot reverse the changes in your lungs, therapy and exercise can slow the progression of your lung disease in a positive way!
How can I start? Always check with your Health Care Professional before starting any exercise program or new activity. Then, call us at The Anderson regarding our inpatient or outpatient therapy options.
Nicole Martin OTR/L is a Licensed and Registered Occupational Therapist, and Director of the Therapy Department, at The Anderson Nursing & Rehabilitation Facility. Her passion and desire to help people recover from injuries started at a young age, and she now has 20 years of experience. Nicole has worked with clients ages 6 months to 106 years, in acute care facilities, short term inpatient rehab, home health care and skilled nursing facilities.