Get More Active To Lessen the Impact of Heart Disease
There is a well-known link between COPD and various types of heart disease. You may or may not be able to avoid the impact on your heart as your COPD progresses.1
But you can definitely take easy actions to lessen this impact. That can help keep your heart working its best, given the circumstances.
How COPD and heart disease can be related
COPD causes or arises from low-grade body-wide inflammation. In other words, this inflammation can affect many organs throughout your body.1,2
This is probably the reason why people who have COPD often have other related diseases as well, such as:3
- Heart disease, including high blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Eye disease, such as cataracts and macular degeneration
Of all these comorbidities, though, heart disease is one of the most common. It is also one of the most concerning, as it can greatly increase the risk of death.1
Heart disease and COPD share some of the same risk factors, including smoking and other unhealthy lifestyle choices. The good news is, that a decline in your physical health and ability to function is not inevitable. You can prevent, or at least slow, this decline, even in the presence of chronic illness.2
Why exercise is important
When a person who has COPD exercises, or moves vigorously, their heart cannot always speed up to meet the body's demands. Recovery after a period of such activity can also take a while. This seems to be true, no matter what level of severity your COPD is currently at.4
Staying active when you have COPD is not always easy. But there are some real benefits to all of us, both physically and mentally, in staying active. Even if you have COPD, you can enjoy these benefits, even if to a lesser extent.
A recent study at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health found that when COPD patients engage in more intense, or vigorous, activity, the benefits can be even greater. They measured these benefits in direct relation to the ability of the heart to speed up and then recover in a reasonable length of time.4
Does this mean you have to start doing 100 pushups or jumping jacks a day or take up running? Of course not!
For you, even if you have mild COPD, intense exercise might be defined quite differently than it would be in an athlete. There are some simple steps you can take to become more active.
How to get more active with COPD
The simplest form of exercise will always be walking. You can walk around your home, if it's large enough, outdoors, at your local fitness center, or even in your local mall.
Walking is great because it requires no special gear or training. To increase the intensity, you can simply walk faster or farther.
Some people even add hand and/or ankle weights when walking. Be careful to increase this intensity over time, as you find your body can tolerate it.
Other options can include taking a Silver Sneakers or seated exercise-type class, if available in your area.
Did you know we offer a few exercise videos right here in this community? As a retired nurse, licensed fitness instructor, and certified Silver Sneakers professional, I offer some options right here that you can do in the comfort and safety of your own home.
Start by reviewing this video to get some general safety tips: Exercising Safely and Effectively With COPD
Here are a few more videos that will get you moving:
How do you exercise? Let us know in the comments.
Do you have an exacerbation toolkit?