Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program

What is a pulmonary rehabilitation program?

For people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), taking part in a pulmonary rehabilitation program can be very helpful. During the program, people learn about the disease and how best manage it. All people with COPD are strongly encouraged to take part in one of these programs. Your doctor can give you information about how to enroll.

What does a pulmonary rehab program involve?

Each pulmonary rehab program is a little different. However, any good and complete program will cover:1

What are breathing strategies?

A key part of each program is learning special breathing strategies. These methods can help reduce breathlessness caused by COPD and make breathing easier. Some of these strategies include:1

  • Pursed-lip breathing
  • Abdominal breathing
  • Methods for clearing mucus from the lungs
  • Ways to conserve energy

Why are exercise routines important for people with COPD?

Getting regular exercise is one of the best ways people with COPD can improve their symptoms and manage their disease. During pulmonary rehab, you will get advice about how to start an exercise routine and stick with it. The program will help you design a personalized exercise routine that is safe and effective for you.

What are nutritional counseling and weight management?

Nutritional counseling and weight management are important because many people with COPD do not have a healthy body weight or nutritious diet. Being overweight or underweight can make COPD symptoms worse. During nutritional counseling, you will learn about how to maintain a healthy weight by eating a healthy diet. You will also get advice about:1

How can lifestyle changes help to prevent flare-ups?

Making lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of infections can have a big impact on people living with COPD. Infections are the most common cause of COPD flare-ups. This is what happens when symptoms suddenly get worse. These can be harmful to people with COPD and may even require treatment in the hospital.

Lifestyle changes that can help prevent infections and flare-ups include:1

What is a COPD management plan?

Creating a COPD management plan is a useful way for you to take an active role in managing your disease. There are different types of management plans, but a typical plan will include tools that can help you:1

  • Keep a record of your daily symptoms
  • Organize your medicines
  • Prepare for emergencies
  • Communicate well with your doctor and care team

How can people cope with the emotional impact of COPD?

Most people living with COPD have a range of feelings and emotions about their disease. Sometimes, these emotions can be hard to cope with and may feel overwhelming. As part of pulmonary rehab, you can learn how to deal with these feelings in a healthy way. You may be able to take part in counseling or support groups to connect with others with COPD who are working through their own similar feelings.

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Written by: Anna Nicholson | Last reviewed: August 2021