Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: May 2023 | Last updated: July 2023

Pulmonary rehabilitation programs can be very helpful for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Pulmonary rehabilitation programs combine education and monitored exercise to help people with COPD learn about the disease and how to best manage it. All people with COPD are strongly encouraged to take part in one of these programs.1,2

What is a pulmonary rehabilitation program?

Pulmonary rehabilitation programs usually involve several aspects that can help people with COPD. It mainly includes educational classes on different topics and supervised exercise sessions. Each program is a little different. However, any good and complete program should cover education and monitored exercise. This may include:1,2

How do pulmonary rehabilitation programs help people with COPD?

Pulmonary rehabilitation programs have many different parts that are designed to help people with COPD in different ways.1,2

Breathing strategies can help you accomplish daily tasks with less struggle. They can also reduce the feeling of breathlessness. Nutritional counseling and weight management can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which is shown to help ease breathing struggles.1,2

Pulmonary rehabilitation programs help people with COPD start an exercise routine. If you have COPD, exercising is one of the best things you can do for your health. But it can be difficult to start. Pulmonary rehabilitation can help by easing you into exercise in a safe way, observed by professionals.1,2c

Pulmonary rehabilitation programs also help with preventing and managing COPD flare-ups. Education on lifestyle changes can prevent infections, which are the most common cause of flare-ups. Pulmonary rehabilitation gives advice on what to do in the case of a flare-up too.1,2

The program should include education on managing the emotional effects of COPD. Also, the programs are typically completed with a group of other people who have COPD. This creates a sense of community and group support, which can make the emotional aspects of COPD easier to manage.1,2

What are the health benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation?

One of the most powerful things a pulmonary rehabilitation program can do is empower you. This can make you feel more prepared to manage COPD. However, there are many benefits to a pulmonary rehabilitation program:1,2

  • Easier time accomplishing daily tasks
  • Feeling less breathless
  • Increased energy and general feeling of well-being
  • Feeling less depressed or anxious
  • Feeling more comfortable talking about COPD with your doctor
  • Ability to exercise more
  • Lower risk of flare-ups

How to find a pulmonary rehabilitation program

Your doctor is a good resource for finding out more about pulmonary rehabilitation programs. They should be able to answer questions and may have advice on finding a good program for you. You can also use an online directory to find programs near where you live.1,2

The cost of pulmonary rehabilitation will depend on the program you choose and your insurance coverage. Medicare will cover the cost of pulmonary rehabilitation for some people. Before you start, ask the staff at the program to help determine your out-of-pocket cost.1,2

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