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Four pillars: knowledge (brain), medications (pill bottle), nutrition (apple), and exercise (dumb bell)

Sharing my COPD Journey!

For those of you who don’t know me, I’d like to use my first article for to introduce myself and how I arrived at this point.

Over 7 years ago I was diagnosed with severe COPD

My FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in the first second is the FEV1) was as low as 22%. I was only 45 years old and couldn’t believe my health had spiralled so badly out of control.

I chose to fight

I had two options, I could sit in the corner and let COPD devour me or I could come out and fight! I chose to fight. Exercise has come and gone out of my life since childhood, but I knew it was a way of strengthening and conditioning the body. I knew that it worked for healthy people, so would it work for someone with lung disease?

It a nutshell, yes. Since my diagnosis, I have completed, very slowly, 3 Ironman events and many marathons. I have conditioned my body to be able to function with limited lung capacity. Don’t get me wrong, this hasn’t been easy and has taken years of training to achieve what I have.

The events I have done have two purposes, one is to raise awareness of COPD and the other is to raise funds for research into lung disease. So far, I have managed to raise close to $60,000 for lung disease charities.

Exercise is just one piece of the puzzle

Please don’t think I’m encouraging everyone to go out and run marathons. Marathons are very hard on the body. I do them as I enjoy the challenge. The message I share with my fellow patients is that exercise is good for COPD patients but is just one piece of the puzzle.

In 2012 I started a blog called COPD Athlete where I share my experiences in the hope it may help other patients. Since the beginning of COPDAthlete, I have written hundreds of articles on my site as well as other sites. In 2017 I started a podcast series where I interview experts and healthcare professionals on different topics relating to respiratory disease.

I live my life on four pillars

While exercise has been a significant part of my rehabilitation, I don’t believe it is the most important. In 2016 I wrote an article for the European Medical Journal titled “The Four Pillars of Living Well with COPD.” In this article I talk about the importance of incorporating knowledge, medication, nutrition and exercise as the pillars I live my life by. Many patients have asked me how can you run marathons when you have severe COPD? My answer is the four pillars.

I’m excited to join this community

I feel privileged to be invited into the community and I hope my articles will in some way help in your everyday challenge of breathing. I will be discussing everything from the four pillars to the psychological battles COPD patients know all too well.

Feel free to comment and give me feedback as I believe that to become a better writer, it’s important to take on the views of others. If there are topics you would like to see discussed, fire away as I’m here to learn from you as well.

How do you stay active with COPD? Share your tips here!

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.


  • James509
    12 months ago

    to the COPD athlete. You, sir are an inspiration. joined this site today. i was diagnaosed COPD emphysema. Collasped lung suddenly brought the bad news; that was in 2005. your story brings people something money cant buy—-HOPE. thank tyou. and thank you to the folks that made this site possible. and please be advised. i am barely computer literate. and i dont get out much

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    12 months ago

    Hi James509 – and welcome! You are doing fine here – easily understandable so you should have no worries about your communication! We appreciate your input and kind words. You are always welcome here! You may find this article will help you to get around this website of ours, too: All the best, Leon (site moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    Welcome Russell – we look forward to all your have to contribute. Glad to have you as part of our community. Wishing you well, Leon (site moderator)

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