Why Exercise is Important for COPD Patients

Does exercise fit into COPD treatment? If you or someone you know suffers from COPD, read Daniel Seter’s informative article below. We are thrilled that Daniel is joining us today as he has extensive knowledge about COPD. Please join us in welcoming Daniel!

Read Daniel’s Bio below.

COPD Lung ImageChronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a condition that afflicts millions of people around the world. It’s primarily caused by cigarette smoking and results in permanent and irreversible damage to the lungs and airways. While there is no cure available, it can be treated with a precise diet and exercise routine.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a condition that afflicts millions of people around the world.

Why Exercise is Important for COPD Patients

Because COPD is characterized by chronic inflammation, it may seem counterintuitive to do anything that may exacerbate it. This is true. Heavy exercise can further damage a COPD patient’s lungs and even lead to a life-threatening exacerbation. However, learning the correct way to exercise through a pulmonary rehabilitation program will actually help you relieve your symptoms and breathe easier.

…learning the correct way to exercise through a pulmonary rehabilitation program will help you relieve your symptoms and breathe easier

According to the European Respiratory Review, pulmonary rehabilitation facilitates smoking cessation, increases blood flow, reduces breathlessness, increases pulmonary strength, and educates patients about their lung health. All of which reduce symptoms related to COPD and even reduce the rate at which the disease progresses.

How Does Pulmonary Rehabilitation Work?

Pulmonary Rehabilitation (PR) differs from other exercise routines in one important way: it’s not created by you or your physical trainer; it’s carefully designed by your pulmonary specialist or another medical professional.

Pulmonary rehabilitation programs are often offered in a group setting and provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to manage your disease. While PR certainly isn’t the only treatment option for COPD, it is one of the most effective. Millions of patients suffering with COPD and other lung diseases can attest to the benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation programs.

Exercise Training

Exercise training is the core component of a PR program. The goal of exercise training is to improve muscular strength and stamina throughout the body allowing you to better perform daily tasks like walking, changing your clothes, cooking, and more without becoming breathless or feeling pain in your lungs.

The goal of exercise training is to improve muscular strength and stamina…without becoming breathless or feeling pain…

During this part of your program, your physical therapist will likely focus on leg and arm strength because these will be the most important muscles for performing daily tasks. He/she may have you walk on a treadmill or lift light weights over your head in order to fully stimulate your muscles.

Your therapist may also use a technique called inspiratory muscle training that’s used to specifically target muscles used in breathing. These muscles are your diaphragm, chest muscles, and intercostal muscles (between the ribs). In general, any type of muscle training will improve circulation and the overall efficiency of your lungs.

Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation

While its effectiveness is debated in patients with early-stage COPD, neuromuscular electrical stimulation remains a key component of PR programs. A NMES device applies electrical impulses to muscles, stimulating them and causing them to contract. This strengthens the muscles and prevents them from becoming inactive. NES is commonly used in patients with severe COPD because it doesn’t result in breathlessness like physical exercise does.

Psychosocial Counseling

Because of the nature of COPD and related diseases, many patients experience anxiety and depression. Many people report feeling like they’re drowning and can’t escape the pain. Unfortunately, the stress this causes will only make symptoms worse.

Psychosocial counseling is often used in PR programs to help ease patients’ nerves. This can help alleviate symptoms. As such, PR programs may be group events that intend to get people with the same disease talking with each other.

Psychosocial counseling is often used in PR programs to help ease patients’ nerves and in turn, alleviate symptoms.


COPD Exercise and Nutritional Counseling

Last, but certainly not least, PR programs include both exercise and nutrition counseling. Everyone who has COPD has varying degrees of lung function. Other diseases or conditions also need to be accounted for. During PR, physical therapists will carefully consider your condition and create an exercise plan and nutrition plan for you. Basically, a routine for you that you can do on your own time.

What’s more, this is the perfect time to address any questions or concerns you have. For example, if you’ve been experiencing pain throughout your body, or have been short of breath, it’s important that you address these issues with your PR instructor or physical therapist. In general, the more information they have about how you’re feeling, the easier it will be for them to create a plan for you.

Some Final Thoughts…

Exercise is an integral part of COPD treatment, but it needs to be done correctly. Pulmonary rehabilitation programs will teach you the correct way to exercise. In addition, it will help you understand the unique aspects of your disease. It’s also important to keep up with all other parts of your treatment plan such as oxygen therapy, nebulizer therapy, and regular doctor’s visits.

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About the Author – Daniel Seter…

Author Daniel Seter

Daniel is a lifelong writer and pulmonary health advocate. When he’s not raising awareness for COPD and asthma he enjoys getting outside and enjoying the fresh Colorado air.

In addition, Daniel writes for LPT Medical.


We hope you found Daniel’s advice beneficial and good topics for discussing treatment options with your doctor. Also ask him/her if making changes in your diet and exercise routine would be helpful to you. Show you care for someone who suffers from COPD by sharing Daniels information.

Thank you for spending time with us today. As always, we wish you the best of health!

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If your Dr. recommends exercise for your COPD, you may like:

Please note that we have not used the products or services from LPT Medical. The appearance of external hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement of the linked products or services they contain.

Author: Joan

We provide information and motivation focused on the importance of physical activity to our quality of life. It's that important.

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