COPD Exercises: 10 Easy Exercises for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients


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You are at a level five if you feel that your shortness of breath is severe, and if you cannot catch your breath at all, you are at a level Keeping your level of dyspnea between levels three and five is best during exercise unless your doctor or pulmonary rehabilitation team tells you otherwise.

Practice deep breathing

While exercise is strongly encouraged, it's important to know your limits. Stop exercising if you notice any of the following signs of overexertion:. Sign up for our Health Tip of the Day newsletter, and receive daily tips that will help you live your healthiest life. There was an error. Please try again. Thank you, , for signing up. Why You Should Exercise.

Assessing Exercise Needs. Types of Exercises. Breathing During Exercise. Using the Dyspnea Scale. Signs of Overexertion. View All. More in COPD. Helping your body to utilize the oxygen you breathe in more efficiently Increasing your energy level and reducing fatigue Increasing walking distance Increasing your strength Reducing shortness of breath Reducing depression and other mood disorders Improving cognitive function Managing weight if you are overweight excess weight means a greater requirement for oxygen in the body Promoting socialization people with COPD often become isolated from others Fewer hospitalizations Improving your overall quality of life.

Talk to your doctor. Before beginning any type of exercise program, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider to make sure the program you choose is safe. If there are reasons that may prevent you from doing certain types of exercises, your doctor can discuss possible alternatives that may better suit you. Your doctor will also be able to tell you if using oxygen during exercise will be necessary. Set goals.

Matching Breathing with Effort

You will reap the greatest rewards from exercising if you work toward a reachable goal. Determine what your goals are by writing them down.

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Keep your goals in mind when you hit a rough spot that may cause you to feel discouraged. Whether your goals are to breathe better or to rely less on others, identifying your goals will help you better accomplish them. Many people skip this step, thinking the time to journal exercise less important than actually doing the exercise, but making and keeping a record of your progress is wonderful incentive to continue on those days when you just don't feel like exercising.

If you have someone who can exercise alongside you, all the better. At the beginning of the rehabilitation program, individual educational needs of each patient are identified. This is continuously reassessed while the patients are undergoing the rehabilitation program. Instead of a didactic teaching, a patient centered and self-management teaching approach focusing on lifelong behavioral changes are adopted these days [ 45 ].

Specifically for COPD patients, a collaborative self-management plan which helps them in an identification of symptoms of onset of an exacerbation, make treatment modification and to communicate early with a healthcare provider, is highly beneficial in the long run [ ]. Patient education runs alongside the exercise training. It is meant to supplement the knowledge gaps and instill confidence in the principles of ongoing training.

Various topics regarding disease and its management are covered with utilization of the expertise of various specialists. It leads to hospitalization, further inactivity, deterioration of lung capacity and mortality. It may also disrupt any advances the patient may have made in improving their exercise capacity and muscle strength [ 45 , 46 ]. An early initiation of pulmonary rehabilitation reduces risk of re-hospitalization and improves overall symptoms without any adverse effects [ ].

A pulmonary rehabilitation program incorporating occupational therapy is important in COPD patients [ , ].


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Occupational therapy assists COPD patients with development of specific strategies to perform ADLs with least expenditure of energy [ ]. With conservation of energy expenditure, there is an improvement in subjective perception of breathlessness, increased efficiency in performing daily basic activities, elevated sense of control and better social engagement [ , , , ]. Occupational therapy skills even though simple in principle, require a learning process, which is achieved through a multidisciplinary rehabilitation program. There is an ever-increasing evidence that improvement in occupation performance of COPD patients lead to a holistic improvement in their health [ ].

Occupational therapist can also instruct COPD patient to use wheeled walking aids, which can result in increased functional autonomy, ventilatory capacity and waling efficiency [ , , , ]. Body composition in COPD patients may change as the disease severity progresses. While obesity predominates in the milder stages of the disease, patients with advanced disease and emphysema tend to be underweight and have generalized muscle wasting [ , ].

Factors other than the lung disease itself, which can lead to this shift, includes inactivity, systemic inflammation, osteoporosis and glucocorticoids use. Studies have shown an increase in mortality in COPD patients who are underweight, independent of their disease severity [ , ]. These patients with decreased fat free mass have higher limitation to exercise tolerance and thereby reported a decreased HRQoL status in comparison to COPD patients with normal weight [ , , , ].

This is why nutritional education are particularly essential in rehabilitation of COPD patients. Every pulmonary rehabilitation program should include nutritional screening with measurement of BMI at the least. A more comprehensive program may also include fat free mass estimate using skinfold anthropometry or bioimpedance analysis. Improvement of nutritional status requires a multi-pronged approach with utilization of both physiologic and pharmacological interventions.

Endurance and strength training as described previously in this chapter can improve muscle mass as well as bone strength. Patients who are unable to eat large meals due to dyspnea can switch to frequent small meals. It has been shown that a 6-month intervention involving dietary counseling, nutritional supplementation and positive reinforcement led to a significant weight gain in advanced COPD patients [ 60 ].

Many COPD patients who are referred to pulmonary rehabilitation suffer from depression and anxiety [ 45 , ].

Dyspnea on exertion leads to fear and anxiety anytime a COPD patient has to exercise. This severely limits their social interaction and eventually leads to depression.


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COPD patients can suffer from hopelessness, sense of isolation and lack of motivation. It is essential to assess the presence of depressed mood during initial evaluation in a pulmonary rehabilitation program. Family and caregiver involvement is advisable to assess the social support system for the patient.

Identifying the mood disorders and deficit in the social support is an integral part of the program [ ]. Patients in need can be provided with psychological and social support, which works to elevate mood, positive thinking and adaptive behavior towards disease and its management. This also improves the compliance with the pulmonary rehabilitation program.

Psychological support can be provided by the physical therapist but often require a psychologist or a psychiatrist involvement.

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Pulmonary Rehabilitation in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Various models of PR have been adopted worldwide. An outpatient or hospital based-outpatient setting is the most widely used model to deliver PR to COPD patient in the developed countries [ ]. In recent years an alternative model where the site of delivery of PR is at home has been studied.

Home based PR setting provides the benefit of exercise training in a familiar setting to a larger patient population. Specifically for patients with severe COPD dependent on long term oxygen therapy, this model of PR has been shown to be both safe and effective [ , ].

Pulmonary rehabilitation for people with COPD - Best Practice Advocacy Centre New Zealand

While home based PR model offers convenience, it lacks the group dynamics which an outpatient model can offer. Group therapy leads to socialization, mood elevation and positive reinforcement. Additionally a home based program does not have a multidisciplinary and comprehensive structure of a hospital based outpatient setting. At the present time, choice of location of PR is dependent on patient preference, disease severity and regional availability of resources.

COPD Exercises: 10 Easy Exercises for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients COPD Exercises: 10 Easy Exercises for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients
COPD Exercises: 10 Easy Exercises for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients COPD Exercises: 10 Easy Exercises for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients
COPD Exercises: 10 Easy Exercises for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients COPD Exercises: 10 Easy Exercises for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients
COPD Exercises: 10 Easy Exercises for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients COPD Exercises: 10 Easy Exercises for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients
COPD Exercises: 10 Easy Exercises for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients COPD Exercises: 10 Easy Exercises for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients
COPD Exercises: 10 Easy Exercises for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients COPD Exercises: 10 Easy Exercises for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients
COPD Exercises: 10 Easy Exercises for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients COPD Exercises: 10 Easy Exercises for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients

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