The Best Exercise for People With COPD

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Exercise can help ease the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Aerobic exercise is especially beneficial. According to National Jewish Health, people with COPD will sometimes cut down on physical activities because they worry about becoming short of breath. However, regular exercise can help someone with this condition breathe better and feel better. Before you start an exercise program, be sure to check with your doctor, who may recommend you use oxygen when you exercise.

Benefits of Exercise

Exercise will help the symptoms associated with your COPD. It will help your circulation and improve your endurance, so you can accomplish more without being short of breath or becoming fatigued. Exercise will also help increase your energy level and decrease your shortness of breath. It has the added benefit of strengthening your heart, lowering your blood pressure and improving your sleep. Start an exercise program slowly. The Cleveland Clinic recommends you gradually work up to an exercise session that lasts 20 to 30 minutes. Exercise at least three to four times per week.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is very beneficial for COPD. This type of exercise, which uses large muscle groups, strengthens the lungs and heart. It also helps the body to use oxygen better and lowers your heart rate. It will improve breathing, because the heart won't have to work as hard during exercise, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Some examples of aerobic exercise are walking, bicycling, skating, water aerobics and low-impact aerobics.

Stretching and Strengthening Exercises

Stretching is an exercise that has several benefits for COPD. It will help improve your flexibility and range of motion. Stretching prepares your muscles for exercise, which will help prevent muscle strain and ward off injury. Strengthening exercise involves muscle tightening that is done repeatedly. Upper body strengthening exercise is beneficial for COPD patients because it helps improve the strength of respiratory muscles.

Coughing Exercise

Practice a coughing exercise to help keep your lungs clear. Start by sitting in a chair. Relax. Lean your head forward slightly. Both feet should be placed firmly on the floor. Breathe in deeply and slowly. Hold your breath for three seconds, if possible. Open your mouth a little and cough twice. Take a breath, then repeat the exercise two to four times.

Pursed Lip Breathing Exercise

A pursed lip breathing exercise can help release air trapped in your lungs. It also helps to eliminate shortness of breath and improves ventilation. The best time to use pursed lip breathing is when you are involved in a difficult task, such as lifting, climbing stairs or bending. To do this exercise, the American Lung Association recommends you start by relaxing your shoulder and neck muscles. Breathe in slowly for two counts, while your mouth is closed. A normal breath is all you need to do. If it helps, count to yourself, "Inhale, one, two." Purse your lips as you would to put out a candle flame. Slowly breathe out, through your pursed lips, while you count to four. If it helps, count to yourself, "Exhale, one, two, three, four."