We know that a regular exercise program is good for all of us – but it’s absolutely essential for those with COPD. Even the most limited patient can achieve dramatic improvement by gradually increasing daily exercise.
However, starting an exercise program can be the hardest part of exercising. PERF board member Mary Burns, RN, has written a very useful article on our website about how to get started exercising.
Here’s her advice in a nutshell:
First, be sure to make an appointment with your doctor and have an exercise test before beginning any exercise program. It’s important to make sure that you maintain an adequate level of oxygen with whatever exercise you do.
Next, work on the mental aspects of exercise before beginning the physical. If you regard exercise as a dreaded chore with little benefit, you can’t possibly continue long-term. But what about this fact for motivation: It’s very possible for someone with lung disease to start rehab in a wheelchair, unable to walk across the room, and after 6 weeks find himself able to walk an hour a day. This is not magic. You too have that same capacity, though without professional help it is more difficult and may take longer to achieve. Keep in mind that respiratory disease affects the muscles as well as the lungs. An exercise program will benefit the muscles, and while it may bring improvement quickly for some and over a more extended time period for others, it will bring results.
Think of this too: How many diseases can be treated without medical intervention and without drugs? Granted, COPD treatment often involves both, but still, it is a marvelous thing that COPD symptoms can be alleviated significantly through the simple act of exercising. Try to embrace it as “nature’s cure.” It makes you stronger and makes you feel and look better – and it’s free!
Always remember that your physician is your best source of help for specific answers applicable directly to your situation. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and be honest with your problems. Nothing you say will be a surprise, a shock, or something your doctor has not heard before. If you’re devising an exercise program with the help of your doctor, you’re helping to manage your disease.