Exercising to Save Your Breath
The process of slowing down
It's thought that after we turn 40 our bodies are done reproducing and we begin the process of slowing down. Our lungs may be the first internal organ to begin the process as some doctors feel that we begin to lose elasticity in our lungs. It is a natural process.
We also begin to feel more fatigued and start to have problems sleeping through the night. This of course leads to napping later in the day and the cycle of sleeplessness and fatigue continues. Most of us stop exercising and exerting ourselves as it becomes too much work for our failing lungs, and we become short of breath very easily.
You will learn to exercise
Once we are diagnosed and get past the shock of our body’s betrayal, we can begin to deal with what is happening. If you are among the lucky ones, you will be offered a pulmonary rehab program at a center or hospital in your area. Most people argue with the referring doctor, as I did, that it would be impossible to exercise. You will say that you have tried and that your body will not cooperate. And your doctor will assure you that you will learn to exercise and to do it properly with minimal shortness of breath.
One of the first things you will learn is pursed-lip breathing (PLB). If you are a good student, you will practice this breathing technique over and over. You will say repeatedly, “In through the nose for the count of 2, out through the mouth using pursed lips for the count of 4.” This will become your mantra and a lifesaver when you become short of breath.
You will then begin to do easy stretches and move on to muscle building exercises for upper body and legs, all the while using PLB. Moving on, you will begin to exercise practicing light cardio and building upper body muscles.
Cardio and building muscles
I use a peddler for cardio. I sit in a chair and my peddler sits on the floor in front of me. This is my go-to cardio exercise and I do it every day while I watch the 6 o’clock news. I can easily get 4,000 steps in an hour. This exercise has built up the large muscles in my legs to help me carry my weight and is an excellent workout for my lungs. I do 10 minutes, rest, and then do another 10 minutes.
Cardio is not the only exercise though. Once you have finished exercising your legs, you must then work on your upper body. You can easily put the peddler on a tabletop and work the muscles in your upper body as well. Working both upper and lower body will give you the power to carry your body without becoming short of breath.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to COPD?