Tips for Exercising with a Chronic Lung Condition

You are not alone if you have a chronic lung condition or disease, like COPD, asthma, or emphysema, and have a difficult time exercising.  Many people that suffer from these (or similar) issues avoid physical activity altogether because of their limiting symptoms. But avoiding working out will only worsen the ailment.  

Here are a few tips that may help you get through your work out session:

1. Seek Clearance

First and foremost, it is important to talk to your doctor before beginning any sort of exercise program or class.  Once youve received medical clearance from your doctor and that youre healthy enough to work out, then proceed with caution; work your way into your programs.

2. Find Something You Love

Choose an exercise you like doing.  If you hate biking or swimming, then do not do it!  By selecting a physical activity you enjoy, you are more likely to do it and stick with it.  Not only will you see physical benefits but your happier attitude will help your mental and emotional health, too.

3. Warm Up and Stretch

Before you start any part of your workout, be sure your muscles are warm by gently stretching and warming up with easy-on-you movements, like walking or swimming.  By stretching and warming up for five minutes, you can increase flexibility and you also lower the risk of injury.

4. Use Your Inhaler

If you require an inhaler, be sure to use it before you start exercising.  Using a bronchodilator prior to physical activity can increase movement tolerance.

5. Work Your Way Into It

It is best to start with short 5-10 minute, easy-going sessions a couple times a day and gradually increase their length and intensity. Start with once or twice a week and work your way up to three to four times weekly.

6. Be Sure to Hydrate

Make sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, if youre not on a fluid restriction.  If you fail to drink plenty of water before, during and after an intense workout, you can become dehydrated.

7. Supplemental Oxygen

If your doc suggests it, be sure to use your supplemental oxygen during your work out.  Using your oxygen concentrator can increase performance and help with feeling breathless.  It is very important to follow your doctors recommendations.

8. Make Sure to Cool Down

Once youve completed your workout, be sure end your session with a quick cool down and stretch.  Your body and heart need time to recover, so slow down for 5 or so minutes before you stop completely.

9. Skip Exercising if You’re Sick

Dont exercise if youre sick or experiencing an exacerbation, episode or attack.  Wait to begin exercising again until youve healed completely and your symptoms have stopped.  Once youre feeling better, slowly and gradually work your way back to where you were before you paused.

10. Notice How You Feel During Physical Activity

Be sure to notice how you are feeling during your exercise sessions.  Be sure to note extreme shortness of breath, coughing fits or other anything else that causes discomfort.  Youll likely need to report back to your doctor.