Slacking on Exercise
Last updated: June 2021
We know that exercise is essential to our well-being. It makes sense that as we age and our day-to-day activities wind down, we need a more regimented exercise routine. For those of us with COPD, exercise is a must. It has been drilled into our heads that a daily exercise routine is necessary if we want to live our best life. So, why is it that some of us never get the message?
It seems too hard
A lot to consider
Living with COPD is not an easy life. Not only do we have constant shortness of breath episodes we also have muscle wasting, increased susceptibility to chest infections, and heart disease, cough, wheezing, and fatigue. Then we are told to exercise. For many of us, it seems too hard and so we put up objections and never give it a chance. Your COPD will never get better but living with it will be easier if you exercise.
The reality is that our condition can and does change daily. That means we can be participating in a daily exercise regiment one day and the next day we are in the hospital. Recovering from an exacerbation is a slow but steady process. We are often sent home earlier than we should be. Keeping in mind that we are not magically healed because we came home, we will still have a way to go before we are better. This will interrupt our exercise schedule and we often make this an excuse to stop exercising and not start again.
Back on the horse
The problem is that I use this excuse for far too long. Even after an exacerbation, I need to force myself to get back on the horse. It isn’t easy and I have no one to push me. I am left to my own devices and that’s where the danger lies. This makes me think that a round of rehab after every hospitalization is necessary. We are often unaware of what we should/could be doing and don’t do anything for fear of doing it wrong. Finding the sweet spot of doing just enough and not overdoing it is the task. There is no wrong way to move, just do it.
Do you have trouble re-starting an exercise plan once you've stopped doing it for a bit?
Where to start
Start by sitting in a chair. This is my favorite way to get started. While you are sitting you can stretch your foot and pump your ankle. Get your feet moving, then your knees, and finally your arms. As you proceed, start adding ankle weights and arm weights. COPD.net has videos on sit and fit or chair yoga. No excuses, everyone can do it.
Muscles use less oxygen than fat, so building these muscles, in a chair, can make it easier to breathe. I do most of my exercising while watching TV. I try to do 3 types of exercise daily:
- Cardio is the main exercise and I do that on my peddler or on a nice day, a walk around the block. I have built up to 40 minutes a day and 4,000 steps.
- Upper body exercise helps my upper body carry my compromised lungs and distribute oxygen properly.
- The most important exercise is breathing exercises. Pursed-lip breathing, Boxed breathing, meditation. Any kind of controlled breathing is beneficial to you.
Being left to our own devices is the most dangerous place for most of us but it doesn’t have to be. You can take control of your COPD by starting a proper exercise routine.
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