Walking Isn’t the Only Way to Exercise

Last updated: May 2022

Between the weight gain from prednisone and my trashed knees, I can’t walk or jog too far. So how do I exercise?

Mastering my breathing

I found that it's easier to exercise when I begin by mastering my breath.  Those with COPD work a little harder to maintain control over their breathing.

The first thing I was told upon diagnosis was to "smell the roses and blow out the candles". As easy as that sounds, keeping it up continually is nearly impossible, but if I don’t, exercise will knock the wind out of me.

Sit mindfully to open the lungs

Sitting in a position that is comfortable for me either in a chair or on the floor, I keep my knees slightly elevated above my hips, my hands on my knees, palms up, keeping my back straight. This lotus position gives my lungs the ability to open wider.

Taking stock of my 5 senses, one at a time, I acknowledge my surroundings and let everything go.

Concentrating on each breath

What do I see, hear, smell, feel, and taste? Finding something as my focus point, my only thought remains on my breathing.

Taking a slow, deep breath through my nose, I experience the smell of Spring roses, newly budding. The scent is delicious, and I draw in deeper and deeper, past my lungs and into my belly.

It's as if I can taste the smell of the roses.

When my lungs have expanded and I cannot get my breath any deeper, I slowly and gently exhale through pursed lips like I am delicately blowing out the candles.

I breathe in again with the intention of getting my breath so deeper into moving my belly.

Once I mastered my breath, exercise never left me short of breath again because when it does, I stop and realign my breathing. Taking the time to practice breathing several times a day makes it my calming go-to when I get short of breath.

Using a chair for excercise

Start with a comfortable chair. I use a kitchen chair, one without arms.

With arms folded at my side so my hands are at shoulder level, I begin by inhaling a breath through my nose and taking it deep into my belly. I exhale through pursed lips as I exert myself by slowly moving my arms straight up in the air.

Bringing my arms back to position, I inhale again. Repeat 10 times. Remember to always exhale on exertion.

Realigning myself

The key is going slowly and keeping my exertion and relaxation in time with my breath.  When I lose track, I immediately stop, realign, and start over again.

In the beginning, my heart rate would soar every time I lifted my arms but I took it slow and easy until I became comfortable.  I practice several times a day as I am watching tv, working at my desk, or listening to music.

Continue moving your arms up, then out, and finally down, doing 10 repetitions of each at a time.

Increasing my stamina

When it got too easy, I lifted with a can of soup in each hand and finally on to two-pound weights. Doing these exercises will get my upper body stronger so it is more able to hold my aging lungs.

Next time I will do lower body exercises.

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