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obese woman with lungs

COPD, Obesity and Me

The last thing that I want to tell a group of people is that I’m overweight. I’m not just overweight, I’m obese. I’ve been dieting for years. Looking back, I have been at this weight and on the 10-20 lb. roller coaster for 6 years. I know that my weight is affecting my COPD, my asthma, my breathing, my arthritis and more. I’m coming clean, because I know there are others who are struggling with their weight as well. We are in this together.

More and more I’m seeing that excess abdominal weight can lower a person’s lung function. The excess fat can constrict the lungs and make it harder to breathe. I know that I was in denial about this, but yes, I can tell a difference.

Are you overweight? Does this affect you? What helps you and what makes it worse?

Diet or regular sodas, chips, sweets, processed foods, etc. contribute to my muffin top. Some days it seems like my abdomen is being pushed up and it likely is, it also pushes against my lungs which makes it more difficult to breathe. I look pregnant. It also makes me tired. Just thinking of it can make me tired, partially because I don’t want to think of it, I just want that weight to go away.

I make sure that I’m up and moving at least every hour. I work with small weights for upper body strength and do stretches and other exercises as well. I need to get back on my recumbent exercise bike. These things will help for a total body, burn calories and yes, help to improve lung volume. If you have an opportunity to go to Pulmonary Rehab, do go. That can make such a difference and they would help you with coordinated exercise. Your doctor would have to recommend you. If you don’t have Pulmonary Rehab where you are, talk with your doctor about an exercise program and see if there is a respiratory program or Better Breathers Club where you are.

We all know how important diet is.

I remember that when I was a 120 pound teenager, I thought I should weigh 100 lbs. I remember after my kids where born when I weighed 148 pounds and that I needed to lose weight. I got down to 106 pounds. Then, a diet was cutting out french fries, cookies or candy. Now it seems to be everything. Dieting is hard work. I have been known to say that quitting smoking was much easier than losing weight, because we have to eat. I did quit smoking 14 years ago, cold turkey. When talking about my quit, my husband will tell you that wasn’t easy… I wonder if he meant for him or for me

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.


    1 year ago

    I feel I am in the same situation as you are. I am 67 and at stage 4. I quit smoking 2 years ago after 50 yrs of it and at the time I weighed 145 lbs….I am now at 215lbs. just about everything I do I can feel the weight and strain on my lungs and heart. through out my life I could eat what ever and as much as I wanted. well today is a different situation. I am still figuring out how to take care of my weight problem. I am not going to give up……I can’t give up!
    so hang in there …..try to stay positive

  • SharonB2
    2 years ago

    This is a first post for me on I lurk hoping to pick up more info about this awful disease. I saw my PCP today and my biggest complaint to her was my weight gain. I have put on at least 30 lbs in the last year and am at the heaviest I have ever been in my life. She mostly blamed it on the steroids (I recently finished a 6 week course of prednisone for an exacerbation in mid January) and lack of exercise. Everything seems hard to do and makes me short of breath. Not really sure what stage I am in since I finally saw a pulmonary doctor a few weeks ago after waiting 6 months for the appointment, we have to wait for most specialist to come from Honolulu to the outer islands. No pulmonary rehab here. Our COPD support group at the local hospital is looking a various way to get it here.

  • Lyn Harper, RRT moderator
    2 years ago

    Welcome SharonB2! I’m thrilled that you felt comfortable to post a comment. I’m sorry about your struggles with COPD. There’s no question steriods are a big cause of weight gain. That combined with not feeling like exercising can certainly contribute to added weight and feeling miserable.

    It’s great that you local support group is looking for ways to start a PR program, but until then you can do a few things on your own to try to helpt the shortness of breath.

    I would suggest starting small and determining what you can handle. It may only be a few arm and/or leg lifts from your living roon chair – but that’s a start. If you feel up to it, try getting a couple of very light weights (or use cans of soup or veges). Sit in your chair and lift those a couple times a day. Don’t overdue, just enough to feel like you’ve accomplished something.

    When you feel up to it, try a short walk at whatever pace works for you. The point is, you start small and work your way up.

    Warmest Regards,
    Lyn (site moderator)

  • Janet Plank moderator author
    2 years ago

    You said it best about hating COPD. There are challenges that most people will never understand. It gets so hard to lose that weight.
    Tracey, is there a pulmonary rehab where you are from or nearby? That would make such a positive difference. I would check with your doctor and see what he would recommend. Even if you can’t do alot of exercise, maybe there is something, even wiggling your fingers and toes or stretching.
    I’m so glad that you wrote. I hope that you are able to find a smile in your day. Please stay in touch and let us know how you are doing.

    Here are a couple of links:

  • TracyCarnahan
    2 years ago

    Boy do I understand. I entered third stage COPD 12 years ago at 135 lbs. I’m now 212lbs. That’s a lot of weight. The more steroids and lessening ng of excercise the heavier I am. Brushing my hair makes me short of breath so exercise is difficult to say the least. I just hate COPD

  • Jenn Patel
    2 years ago

    We really hear your frustration, TracyCarnahan. Thanks so much for expressing it here with us, because there are many others who feel the same way and it helps for people to know that they’re not alone. So thank you for helping others on the site! Hoping you’re having a good one today. Best, Jenn ( Team)

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