Health Information and Tools > Tests & Treatments >  Pulmonary Rehabilitation
Facebook Tweet Share

Main Content

Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Treatment Overview

What is pulmonary rehabilitation?

Pulmonary rehabilitation—"rehab" for short— is a program that uses education, exercise, and support to help people with breathing problems. The programs are designed based on your health needs and your goals.

You'll work with a care team that includes doctors, nurses, dietitians, and therapists. You and your team will set goals to meet your needs, based on your symptoms and treatment. There are different kinds of pulmonary rehab programs. Some are done in the hospital. Some are done at home.

What happens in pulmonary rehab?

Your rehab team will look at your symptoms and current treatment to make sure that you can get the most out of the program. They also will look at other concerns, such as heart problems and arthritis, that might affect how well you can exercise and do your daily tasks.

Then you and your team will set short-term and long-term goals to meet your needs. For instance:

  • Some people might want to be able to dress themselves every day.
  • Others might want to be able to walk 30 minutes every day.

A healthy lifestyle is an important part of pulmonary rehab. You'll get support in making healthy choices such as:

  • Getting help to quit smoking. If you smoke, stopping is the most important therapy. Quitting smoking can slow damage to your lungs.
  • Learning how to eat well. A healthy diet is important to keep up your strength and health.

What will you learn in pulmonary rehab?

You'll learn about your lung condition—how it progresses and how it is best treated. This can make it easier to live with and manage the condition. Rehab programs usually include education for both you and your family about a variety of issues. These include:

  • How you can manage your symptoms.
  • How to prevent and treat flares.
  • How to do breathing exercises that may help reduce shortness of breath.
  • How to use your medicines and inhalers.
  • How to save energy and make tasks easier to do.
  • How to manage stress.

What exercises can you expect in pulmonary rehab?

Exercise training often includes aerobic exercise, such as walking or using a stationary bike. It also includes exercises to strengthen your arms, legs, and the muscles that help you breathe.

  • Regular exercise can improve how active you can be. And it can reduce your shortness of breath.
  • If you stay active, you may have fewer breathing problems and fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Your exercise program will be designed for your goals, your abilities, and your lifestyle.

How can support help with pulmonary rehab?

Support and encouragement from friends, family, and your health care team are important in helping you stay with your rehab plan.

  • Your doctor may recommend counselling for you and your family.
  • Support groups may be available in your area. These groups can help you and your family cope with your condition and the problems it can cause.
  • One benefit of a rehab program is the chance to meet other people who are also having a hard time breathing. You can learn from each other about living better with a lung condition.

What are the benefits of pulmonary rehab?

Depending on what lung condition you have, pulmonary rehab may:

  • Ease symptoms such as shortness of breath and feeling tired.
  • Help you stay out of the hospital.
  • Give you more control over your condition.
  • Help you manage the emotional effects of having a lung condition.
  • Help improve the quality of your life.
  • Help you lead a more active life.
  • Help you feel better and live longer.
  • Decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression.

What To Expect

An ongoing pulmonary rehabilitation (rehab) program can help you function better over the long term. Each program should set short-term and long-term goals to help you keep track of changes and successes. This makes sure that the program continues to meet your needs.

Why It Is Done

Your doctor may suggest pulmonary rehab if you have ongoing lung problems such as COPD. It can help you manage your condition and be more active. Rehab can help you feel better and have a better quality of life. It can also help you breathe better.

How Well It Works

Depending on what lung condition you have, pulmonary rehab may:

  • Ease symptoms such as shortness of breath and feeling tired.
  • Help you stay out of the hospital.
  • Give you more control over your condition.
  • Help you manage the emotional effects of having a lung problem.
  • Help improve the quality of your life.
  • Help you lead a more active life.
  • Help you feel better and live longer.
  • Decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Risks

There is little or no risk to these programs if they are well supervised.

Credits

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.