Exercising with COPD Part 2

Finding a good exercise program or routine when you have COPD is very important. It is also important to talk to your doctor and to understand a few things prior to starting like the benefits and how to start. To learn more about what you can read in Part 1, click here.

A Good Exercise Routine for You

Now that you’ve had a chance to talk to your doctor to get the all-clear to exercise and you know its benefits, it’s time to start your exercise program. Any exercise program should begin with stretching and a short warm up. Doing so preps your body for your exercise session helps prevent injuries, and increases your flexibility. Be sure to breathe in and out as you stretch and don’t push your stretches past the point of mild discomfort. Hold your stretches up to 30 seconds and repeats four or five times.

Once your body is warmed up, do something to increase your blood circulation with cardiovascular exercise. This helps improve lung and heart health and function. Here’s where your planning session from Part 1 comes in handy. You’ve already decided your favorite way to get your heart rate up, now you get to implement it. Whether you’re biking or walking in or outdoors, swimming or taking a group step class, aim to exercise once daily 3-5 times each week. Work with your doctor to determine how long each work out should be for your specific case. Once your workout is complete, be sure to help your body cool down for a few minutes. Slow it down and try to get your heart and breathing rate back down to normal. Feel free to stretch again and slowly walk (or bike, etc.) around before completely resting.

Three times a week, include in your workout a muscle strengthening session. By using free weights, a weight machine, or resistant bands, you can increase your muscle strength. Increasing muscle strength will decrease your body’s feeling of breathlessness, improve your ability to do everyday tasks, and improve your overall feeling of health.

Finding a Good Balance

As you embark on your exercising journey, it’s very important to find a good balance of pushing yourself but not overexerting yourself. Pushing yourself too far can be just as damaging as not working out. To help yourself find a good balance, you can use the Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion. This scale does not require any special skills, knowledge, or equipment and it will help you determine how well you are exercising and help you keep your activity level in a good place.  Use this scale to determine how hard you are working. To do so, really focus on how you feel inside (not that your calves hurt or that you’re short of breath) and try to be as honest with yourself as you can. Here’s the scale:

1-6 – No exertion at all (Complete rest)
7 – Extremely light
9 – Very light
11 – Light
13 – Somewhat hard
15 – Hard
17 – Very hard
19 – Extremely hard
20 – Maximal exertion

During your workout, you should aim to be a 12-14 on the scale. If you need to, reduce your exertion levels to a 9-11 and work your way up to a higher exertion level.

To read part 3 of this series click here!