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 you’ve received medical clearance from your doctor and that you’re 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 you’re 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 doctor’s recommendations.
8. Make Sure to Cool Down
Once you’ve 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
Don’t exercise if you’re sick or experiencing an exacerbation, episode or attack. Wait to begin exercising again until you’ve healed completely and your symptoms have stopped. Once you’re 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. You’ll likely need to report back to your doctor.