Living An Active Life with COPD
Imagine feeling breathless and tired after walking up one flight of stairs or getting dressed for the day. For patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), simple daily activities can lead to shortness of breath, wheezing, or exhaustion. These symptoms are why many COPD patients think they should avoid exercise and activity. However, avoiding exercise may be making things. worse.
Often patients believe exercise is unsafe or fear it will make symptoms worse. However, exercise and activity can actually improve both physical and emotional well-being for patients with COPD. Inactivity can actually make the disease worse and lead to a decline in heart function and muscle mass. If patients avoid activity, it leads to a cycle of reduced function and eventually being unable to do even basic physical activity.
The key to remaining active is to consult with your physician about how to best manage symptoms before, during, and after activity.
A Guide to Activities for COPD Patients
Exercise – Exercise can help improve your energy level and ability to do more without growing breathless. Low-impact aerobic exercises such as walking, riding a stationary bike, and swimming are ideal to help improve breathing. Start with a short amount of exercise and gradually build up to longer periods of exercise time.
Travel – With a little advanced planning, COPD patients can take that fun vacation trip or holiday visit to far-away family members. Consult with your doctor before a trip to make sure you have enough medication. If you are on oxygen therapy, portable oxygen tanks are available. If you plan to fly, ask the airline about any requirements for oxygen.
Shopping – If you love browsing through your favorite stores downtown or taking a trip to the mall, it’s still possible. The key is to think about energy management. The day you plan your shopping trip, you may want to skip exercise and delegate chores around the house. Ask another family member to do any essential cooking or cleaning so that you have the energy for your outing.
Yardwork and Housework- If you are planning to work outdoors, pay attention to the weather forecast. Extreme heat or cold can aggravate symptoms, so plan yardwork for more moderate weather. During housecleaning, you should avoid heavily scented cleaning products that can irritate your respiratory system. With any activity, break up your time with periods of rest. Tasks may need to be divided out among days of the week.
Explore Pulmonary Rehabilitation
Pulmonary rehabilitation is a combination of supervised exercise and education. Patients typically walk or bike while their heart and breathing is monitored. Pulmonary rehabilitation programs also allow people to meet others living with COPD. Ask your physician about pulmonary rehabilitation programs in your area.
When to See Your Doctor
If you have symptoms of COPD but have not been diagnosed, make an appointment to see a physician. Symptoms of COPD include an ongoing cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness.
If you have already been diagnosed with COPD, but are having trouble managing your symptoms, it’s time to check in with your physician. The pulmonary care team at LeBauer is specially trained in diagnosing and treating COPD. To make an appointment, call one of our pulmonary care locations.