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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) often makes it difficult to breathe, which in turn may limit how active you are and how much you exercise. But it is important to remain active and exercise when you have COPD. Activity and exercise can:
Exercises for COPD can be done nearly anywhere. They are often done as part of a pulmonary rehabilitation program.
Always consult with your doctor before starting an exercise program. Heart problems, such as coronary artery disease (CAD) or high blood pressure, are common in people who have COPD and may limit exercise options. You may need medical supervision when you start your program.
Exercises for COPD are simple to do and take little time. They generally consist of aerobic exercises, which increase oxygen flow to your muscles, and upper and lower body exercises, which strengthen muscles.
Always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program. People with COPD may have heart problems, such as coronary artery disease (CAD) or high blood pressure, that limit exercise options. You may need medical supervision when you start your program.
If you become breathless while doing any of the exercises, rest in a position with your shoulders supported (such as in a chair) and wait until you can breathe easily again.
To get started with an exercise program:
The following examples are general exercises for people with COPD.
Aerobic exercises increase the amount of oxygen that is delivered to your muscles, which allows them to work longer. This helps you do more activities for longer periods of time.
Any exercise that raises your heart rate and keeps it up for an extended period of time will improve your aerobic fitness. These exercises include walking, using a treadmill, cycling or using a stationary bicycle, swimming, and water aerobics.
Daily activities can also be aerobic: walking to work or to run errands, sweeping (perhaps to fast-paced music), playing actively with children, and walking your dog.
There is an easy way to determine whether your heart rate is at the right level during aerobic exercises:
Talk to your doctor before starting aerobic exercise. He or she will help you know how often and how long to exercise and how to set your long-term exercise goals.
Knee extensions, leg lifts, and step-ups develop lower body muscles and will help you move around more easily for longer periods of time.
Talk to your doctor before starting these exercises. He or she will help you know how often and how long to exercise and how to set your long-term exercise goals.
Upper body exercises increase strength in arm and shoulder muscles, which provide support to the rib cage and can help improve breathing. They help in everyday tasks such as carrying groceries and doing housework.
Current as of: July 6, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Ken Y. Yoneda MD - Pulmonology
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