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Baseball vs. COPD

We are approaching the middle of the summer season. The smell of fresh-cut grass and the sounds of the ice cream man will soon waft through the air, and you can see several baseball diamonds in and around town filled with kids of all ages. There are some interesting parallels between baseball and COPD.

Babe Ruth once said, "Yesterday's home runs don't win today's games." In many sports cultures, the win or the loss of the game is what matters for the moment, and throughout the season, your averages reflect your cumulative efforts.

Long-term COPD management and immediate needs

As a patient with COPD, your stats at the moment often matter most. How you are feeling now is what we tend to focus on. Saving your energy and your breath is preferred over pushing yourself in the hopes of gaining stamina or increased lung function tomorrow or next week.

But as with baseball, the collective stats and the practice and conditioning matter just as much as what happens in the batter's box. Think of the condition of COPD as the pitcher and the batter as the COPD patient. Every at-bat is filled with intense focus and effort.

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At times it takes just as much focus to get up and make your way to the bathroom across the living room when you are battling shortness of breath with COPD. The psychology of sports can be applied to almost any life or health situation.

The different pitches of COPD difficulties

Think of the types of pitches in a baseball game:

Changeup:

one of the slowest pitches. It is based on deception. Its goal is to make a batter think a fastball is coming and usually catches the batter off balance. A changeup for a COPD patient may look like an impending panic attack that you work through.

Knuckleball:

Is a rare pitch. Its goal is unpredictable. The erratic delivery of the ball keeps even the umpire guessing until it crosses the plate.

A knuckleball for a COPD patient may be the presenting of the start of a cold or feeling more winded than normal. It could mean the beginning of a flare-up of your COPD symptoms or could be just your body's way of fighting off an everyday infection.

Curveball:

is a pitch that aims to keep you off balance. The physical sign the catcher uses to indicate to the pitcher to throw a curveball is the upside-down peace sign.

Ironically, when life throws you a curveball, you feel the opposite of at peace. A curveball for a COPD patient can be a sudden worsening of symptoms, new symptoms, a change of medication, or therapies that are unsettling and will take time to adjust to.

Fastball:

the hardest pitch to hit. But when the batter connects with the high velocity pitch it can wallop into the stands in a hurry.

A fastball for a COPD patient can be the rapid progression of the disease, the whirlwind a new COPD patient feels when they are first diagnosed. The symptoms, the emotions, and the required life changes one must adopt when diagnosed with COPD can come at you at lightning speed and overwhelm you daily.

Skills for success in sports and COPD management

To be successful in sports and in treating COPD, you must work on the following:

Coordination:

being adept at thinking before and during each movement.

Teamwork:

assemble a team of medical experts to assist you on your journey, as well as your circle of support to walk side by side with you on your journey.

Self-discipline:

You can be given tips and tricks and even fancy medicine to help you, but at the end of the day, you must be willing to do the work. Any COPD patient will tell you the road is challenging at best. You have to be flexible in your expectations and relentless in your pursuit of better breathing.

Strength:

COPD does not only impact your lungs, it impacts your entire body. Your training should encompass your entire body. Your mind, body, and soul need improvement and will need to pick up the slack of a respiratory system that is deficient.

Conditioning will look different for everyone. It may be walking 30 mins on the treadmill, around the block, or standing up during commercials and walking in place. If you don't use it and improve and stretch your lung capacity, COPD will take over more territory in your lungs.

Jackie Robinson is known for many achievements on and off the baseball field. He was once quoted as saying, "Life is not a spectator sport." This quote emphasizes the importance of active participation and engagement in life.

Getting a diagnosis of COPD is a life-altering condition. But with the right outlook and a game plan, you can live a vibrant, active life.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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