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Exercise to feel better. Medication, and the oximeter.

Medication, Exercise and the Oximeter

As warmer weather approaches my thoughts, like many others, turn to the great outdoors. What can I do that is fun? Where can we visit? Where can I take some really good pictures with my camera? But to enjoy all the things I want to do, I have to follow some simple rules. As you do too to get the most out of your life, and lungs.


Most of us use several inhalers. Some give medication as a spray, while we have to suck in powder with others. If you have a powder inhaler, and most of us have, and you have little breath to inhale the medication into your lungs then please visit your medical adviser as soon as possible, and ask if a mist alternative would be a possible option. It could make all the difference to you, since if you’re unable to inhale the powder deep into your lungs it may not be working for you.

When I wake in the morning the first pump I take is Ventolin. The reason I take Ventolin spray first is it is a fast reactor, and will open my airways quickly. Allowing me to get the medication from my two powder pumps deep into my lungs.

For me, the easiest way to take a mist inhaler is using a spacer. If you do not have a spacer ask your health care provider if it would be right for you, as that can make sure you get all of any spray medication into your lungs. When using any inhaler for the drug to get deep into your lungs you need to sit up, back straight, head level, and inhale.

If you use a mist spray inhaler without a spacer first exhale as far as you can, back straight, head level. Clasp the inhaler firmly around your lips, and while you slowly inhale, take a dose. Please make sure you shake the medication first. And if you have to take a second dose, give at least 30 seconds before the second dose. Shaking the medication again before any second dose.

For powder inhalers the difference is you need to inhale as fast as you can to get the powder as deep into your lungs as possible. Sit up, back straight, with your head level, exhale as far as you can. Then put your lips firmly around your inhaler and inhale as fast as you can. Hold your breath for a short while, then continue to breathe gently.


We must exercise as exercise will build up our stamina, respiratory system, and muscles. The beauty of it is we do not have to do a lot of it to get benefits. Exercise will help to keep our weight under control. And enable us to breathe easier. I live in a mountainous country with lots of ups and downs making walking outdoors all but impossible. So I exercise at home. I will move around the house. If there are dishes to wash get busy cleaning them. Any and every little job is exercise.

If you prefer you can use a treadmill. But as I don’t have anywhere to keep what is a large item my favorite is walking on the spot. Sometimes I do this listening to music, other times watching a film. If you, like me, use oxygen, make sure you use it. The advantage of exercising as I do is that I am in a safe environment. Is temperature controlled, flat, and I can stop anytime I need to for as long as I want.

Walk on the spot at a pace you are comfortable with moving your arms like a soldier. It does not matter how slow you are. Or how often you need to stop to rest. What is important is you are exercising.

If you can afford to buy a Fitbit to record your progress you will find that a great motivator. As well as knowing how many steps you have taken. My Fitbit tells me what my heart rate was during exercise, how many steps taken and lots more information. Aim to increase your steps a little as often as you are able. But if find you are comfortable with the steps you do, and don’t want to increase them, that is fine also. By exercising you will find your stamina will increase, and you will feel better for it. If you can walk on the spot for half an hour at least five times a week with rests along the way you are doing really well. But if you can only manage five or ten minutes that is fine also. Even a little exercise will help you.

Exercise will not only help you to breathe better, and have more energy. But be good for your heart too. After a while your resting heart rate will be lower.

While exercising I often test my blood oxygen saturation levels using an oximeter. If you use supplementary oxygen I recommend you do this too. If you notice your saturation levels have dropped below 90 please rest for a few minutes to enable them to climb to your normal.


An oximeter will not give a good reading with cold fingers so make sure your hands are warm before taking a reading. Nor does an oximeter give a true reading if the user is wearing nail polish so please remove this before using. Put the device onto a finger then wait for a minute for the reading to settle before taking note. If your saturation levels become very low during exercise please stop exercising until you are able to see your medical advisor to ask how you can be helped to exercise safely.

By being careful, exercising, and using your medication right it is possible to almost halt the progression of COPD. Even at the very severe stage. I have held my FEV1 to 25% for several years now even though my gas exchange has worsened a little.

I am not anti smoking but be aware. If you smoke you will deteriorate faster. I only mention this because I know if you continue to smoke with COPD you will have more exacerbations, and sadly may die sooner.

I hope you have found this article useful. Enjoy your life, friends and family. Be positive and smile. But most of all, Breathe Easy.

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


  • kbcopd
    1 year ago

    Best article I’ve read on the disease thus far & just what I needed to hear as I have been feeling a little downbeat about my COPD. It was uplifting and encouraging exercise at any level as being OK. Also answered spacer & inhaler questions I had.TY so much Derek! Feeling more optimistic! 🙂

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi kbcopd and thanks for the kind words. I’m sure Derek will respond on his own when he sees this. I wanted to make certain your post was acknowledged at this point in time. So glad to hear you found such value in Derek’s material.
    Wishing you the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • Campdon
    2 years ago

    Thanks Derek. I am new to this forum, but appreciate the information and honesty in advice. You made my day. I am 73 and will be going to rehab tommorow. I love walking but cannot do so much without getting out of breathe, even with portable 02. Never had a Pulmonary Dr. tell me what stage I am in. But I know my activity is a lot less than a year ago.

  • Jenn Patel
    2 years ago

    Hi Campdon –

    Thanks so much for sharing. How did rehab go? Was it your first visit to pulmonary rehab? Many people find that they get great benefits from it, so I hope that is your experience too. You may be interested in this article from Derek, actually about pulmonary rehab:

    I’m so sorry that your activity is a lot less than it was a year ago. You’re not alone in this experience, and just so you know, it is possible to slow the progress of the condition! This article on the subject might interest you: (It’s also written by Derek!)

    Hopefully your doctor or specialists will talk with you about what stage you might be in (and feel free to ask if they don’t bring it up) – in the meantime I thought you might be interested in this page on COPD stages:

    It sounds like you have a great attitude – feel free to come back here any time you’d like info or support! We welcome you any time!

    Jenn (Community Manager,

  • 13l46b0
    3 years ago

    Always enjoy your articles. Thanks!

  • Derek Cummings author
    3 years ago

    Many thanks 13l46b0 for your support. I am always pleased when people appreciate my articles and always love to hear from those that read them. Breathe Easy. 🙂

  • ps5cj2
    3 years ago

    Thank you so much for this informative and realistic article. Most everything I read says to exercise til you drop and then keep pushing it! Your blog gives me hope and makes me want to keep on doing what I can in lieu of saying “what’s the use?”. Thank you again. Blessed be.

  • Derek Cummings author
    3 years ago

    I am always so pleased when one of my articles has helped. No you do not need to exercise until you drop. Every little bit helps. As you start to exercise you will find, naturally, that your stamina will build and you will want to do more. Breathe easy and remember. Start off with small steps. Many thanks for your comment. x

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