Exercising With Resistance Bands (Part 1)

Editor's note: This is part 1 of a series. Check out part 2 and part 3!

In December of 2019, I asked my doctor to be admitted to a respiratory rehabilitation program and he quickly agreed. This would be the second time I had completed the program in 5 years. Upon my start date, we immediately went into lockdown and the program was canceled. I was disappointed but a few weeks later, I was invited to complete the program via Zoom and I accepted. I was apprehensive and excited at the same time and looked forward to my new adventure.

6-minute walk test

To take part in the respiratory rehab program, I had to complete an 'in-person' 6-minute walk test. I had completed one before the lockdown but too much time had passed so I had to repeat it. The 6-minute walk test is a functional capacity test that looks for walking distance, oxygen desaturation, and how you perceive your shortness of breath according to the BORG scale. Most people have completed spirometry on a regular basis as they visit their doctor and have another test before taking a walk test. At least they would have something to compare this walk test with.

Scary times

The pandemic made leaving my house tricky as I had only been out twice since it started. I tried to get out of it but my attempts were useless. I weighed the pros and cons and ended up doing the test because I wanted to be part of the program. During the walk test, they allowed me to keep my oxygen on, use my walker, and take my mask off. Once it was done, I learned I had surpassed my last test and was admitted to the program.

Resistance bands

The reward for passing the test was a resistance band. I was given it before I left and told that this was the only tool we would use for exercise. Interesting. This elastic band was about 4 inches wide and about 6 feet long. It was pliable and easy to manipulate. I had heard of the bands but had never used them before so I would be learning something new again. I was very excited.

Getting ready

Now I had to wait for the call that the program would be starting and set up my Zoom page. We would be exercising twice a week and have an educational session once a week. It was a fairly standard delivery of the program and just what I had expected.

The first session was online, one-on-one with my therapist. His name was Jim. We would meet once a week and discuss my progress and how I was feeling. He would remind me of last week's lessons and if I had followed through with my homework.

That was followed by a group education session that took us through what COPD is, using mindfulness to calm ourselves, and some good tricks for day to day living, cooking, bathing and exercise.

Finally, another therapist would finish the final exercise session with the same group of people that had been in the education session together.

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