COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is a chronic lung disease characterized by shortness of breath, activity limitations and for some people a chronic cough. It includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Depending on your symptoms and testing you can have mild, moderate or severe COPD.
Canadian Respiratory Guidelines recommend that everyone with COPD exercise regularly. Exercise can be a daily walking program to participating in a community exercise class. These guidelines recommend that exercise needs to include both aerobic and strength training in order to maximize your endurance and make the greatest impact on your day to day life.
- Reduce your shortness of breath. As your muscles get more efficient at using oxygen you don`t have to breathe as fast to get enough oxygen and this decreases your breathlessness.
- Increase your exercise capacity which means your day to day activities such as housework, showering and yard work will be easier
- Decrease your fall risk
- Can decrease your risk of infections
But the idea of starting to exercise can be hard when you get short of breath walking around your community or when doing light activities. This can be when a custom graded exercise program geared to your abilities can help the most. A physiotherapist will look at the best aerobic exercise program for you, develop an arm and leg strength and flexibility program and add in some balance training.
Before starting an exercise program you should have a conversation with your doctor to ensure there are no medical reasons to delay starting. A physiotherapist can complete an assessment and develop an exercise program that will help you achieve your goals. You will also benefit from education on pacing, energy conservation, managing breathlessness and exercise progression.
Action Potential Rehabilitation has physiotherapists with a strong interest and training to work with you and develop a program to help you achieve your goals and manage your symptoms.
We also run an 8 week Cardiac Resp Rehab Exercise Class which allows you to complete an individualized circuit training program in a small group setting with physiotherapist supervision.
Further resources you can read about exercising with COPD are found at the Canadian Lung Association, HeartWise and the Ontario Lung Association.
Pat Fejes, Registered Physiotherapist