Community Tips: Staying Active with COPD
When living with COPD, every day can be unique. Some days, independence and activity may come easily, while other days, it may be an uphill battle just to get out of bed. It’s nothing new to those living with COPD to hear that “staying active” is key to slow the progress of the condition, and to prevent things like de-conditioning or a death by couch. However, on days that are worse than others, how is it even possible to engage in physical activity without feeling hopeless, frustrated, or weak? The task can seem scary or impossible at times. So we asked you in the Facebook community what tips or strategies you have for staying active with COPD! These were your thoughts:
While staying active with COPD is about knowing one’s bodily limits, it is never a bad idea to ask for help. This can range from a fitness expert to a friendly neighbor. What works for someone depends on their budget, time, and mobility constraints. Although a certified specialist may be nice to create specific activity plans, a friend can be just as beneficial.
"I have a HPER fitness expert come to my house three days a week."
Enlisting a buddy to go for bi-weekly walks who understands that frequent breaks may need to be taken, or even just asking a neighbor to come over and chat while cleaning can be just as beneficial. Like with any fitness or activity plan, having good company can be a wonderful motivator and support system.
"I have been motivated by my friends and the people here and I intend to start moving more right away"
Try Something New: Yoga
For those living with COPD, it may not be easy to engage in activities you once enjoyed. However, that doesn’t mean that new activities can’t be just as fulfilling. Yoga is a great activity that is more for "practice than perfection"—a mantra many with COPD find helpful when trying to navigate physical activity regimens. Not all types of yoga are physically challenging. Mindful, Hatha, or Restorative yoga are all variants that focus on mindfulness and breathing techniques, with a decreased emphasis on physical exertion.
"I love to do yoga; I find it helps a lot and forces me to breathe right"
Many local recreation centers or rehabilitation facilities may offer classes for a small to no fee. There are also yoga DVDs or instructional videos online for those who want or need to practice at home. Enlisting the help of a buddy can be great here, as yoga is a self-paced activity. The focus is on each individual and what their body needs, including frequent breaks if necessary. There is no pressure to maintain a certain pace or to keep up with someone else.
"I go twice a week to a free Yoga class put on by a rehab clinic. The biggest thing to concentrate on is breathing. It's about practice, not perfection"
Maintain Positivity and Make Activity Something Enjoyable
With the constant fatigue many go through, and the daily struggle to even do household activities, depression and hopelessness can be common emotions felt by those with COPD. You are not alone. These feelings can make it nearly impossible to want to pursue activity at all. But there are many ways to maintain a positive attitude and find joy even in difficult activities. While someone with COPD may not be able to do everything they once could, it’s important to embrace the things you can do in order to keep moving forward. A small shift in mindset can lead to the completion of new challenges!
"I love walking outdoors in nature around lake and oceanfronts and forests. Slower than I used to be, but I'm doing pretty well since my last exacerbation"
Another great option is to make simple activities fun. If it’s possible to leave the house, walks around beautiful and peaceful settings can be restorative and inspiring. Even just making a fun CD of songs to play at home that are positive and uplifting can make any activity enjoyable. Even better, asking a loved one or friend to make a playlist with great songs can be a fun activity for all!
"I walk daily, and just recently I have found that if I play classic rock I get up and dance!"
Ultimately, it’s incredibly important not to give up or lose hope in the pursuit of activity with COPD. Physical activity can be a process, and more challenging for some than others, but enlisting those around you, engaging in new activities, and maintaining a positive spirit can be transformative on your journey.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to COPD?