Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) symptoms, such as shortness of breath, can make exercise seem impossible for the patient. But that doesn’t mean COPD patients should avoid working out regularly. Learn how to exercise safely with this 4 Exercise Tips For COPD Patients.
1. Practice Stretching and Strength Training
Stretching is a great form of exercise for COPD patients as it will strengthen muscles and lungs without putting too much strain on the lungs. It is also a great place to start if you’re just getting into exercising.
Raise your arms above your head as you breathe in and stretch through your fingertips. Lower your arms slowly as you breathe out. You can also strengthen your arms by sitting with a straight back and raising your arms in front of you with your fingers outstretched. Breathe in and out slowly as you pulse your arms slightly up and down. In this seated position, you can also work your legs. Lift one leg up as you breathe in, and slowly lower it as you breathe out. Repeat 8 to 10 times on each leg.
2. Work in Some Cardio Exercise
Often times, COPD patients will avoid cardio because they believe that the access strain on the lungs and difficulty breathing is harming them. But it’s actually the opposite. This will strengthen your lungs and over time make breathing easier. Cardio involves moving large muscles groups in a steady way that will build up your body’s ability to use oxygen. You may try walking, biking, water aerobics, or other low-impact aerobics. Daily walking is highly recommended for patients with COPD. Building your endurance will reduce your shortness of breath. Cardio will also improve your circulation as your body will use oxygen more efficiently. It will also decrease your resting heart rate. Aside from these benefits, cardio can also effectively impact your emotional health as it reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.
3. Do Breathing Exercises
COPD patients are often turned off from exercising because of the difficulty breathing that they already experience. Practicing breathing exercises will increase your lung health over time and reduce your difficulty breathing. Try inhaling and holding your breath for five seconds. Exhale slowly taking at least four seconds to let out your air.
You can also try laying flat on your back with a pillow under your knees. Place one hand on your stomach and one on your chest. Breathe in and be sure that your stomach is rising and that your chest is still. Take a deep breath, hold it for four seconds before slowing letting it out. Breathe through pursed lips, allowing the air to pass slowly through you. These exercises will strengthen your diaphragm.
4. Start Slow and Build Up
Many COPD patients do not exercise because of the discomfort. But once you are in the routine of exercising, it will increase your comfort. Just don’t jump in too quickly. Start small, even if it means walking only a minute a day. One of the biggest mistakes made in exercising is starting too big or going big too fast. Let your exercising work for you, not against you. Start in your comfort zone. Slowly increase as you increase your ability and comfort zone. You’ll be amazed at the changes you see as you keep going!