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Pulmonary Rehab: The Best Therapy for Me

I was diagnosed with emphysema, chronic bronchitis, COPD two years ago. I was started on inhalers and saw some improvement, but could not exercise because of severe breathing problems. I am on oxygen at night and with strenuous activity. My Dr. recommended pulmonary rehab.

Before rehab I could only walk for 10 minutes without becoming so tired I had to stop, and my activity level was very low. I already knew about lung functions, proper use of inhalers, diet and exercise and progression of the disease because I am a retired R.N.

After the 18 visits to rehab, I am now in maintenance rehab. At each visit I now walk 30 mins. on the treadmill, 30 mins. on a crosstrainer and 20 mins. for arm resistance training. I also lost 9 pounds in 8 weeks as I was slightly overweight. At home I do stretching exercises, walk 30 min. and lift weights daily, along with my breathing exercises. I feel that going through pulmonary rehab and continuing exercise, and using my inhalers will prolong my life quite significantly. I would recommend it to anyone who has it available to them. By the way I am almost 72 years old, so being older didn’t stop me.

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

Comments

  • Denisefioritto
    3 years ago

    Hi. I am new to this site. I feel so afraid. All of the time. I’m afraid to leave the house alone. Afraid of dying. Afraid of not being able to breath.
    What can I do? I am already on anxiety meds and meds for depression. I take all my inhalers as directed. I’m afraid I’m not going to live long enough to see my daughter graduate high school. This fear is paralyzing. I’ve been stuck in this grieving stage since diagnosed almost five years ago.

  • Jenn Patel
    3 years ago

    Hi Denisefioritto –

    Thanks for your comment, and we welcome you to our community here at COPD.net. I really hear you on being afraid all the time.

    In addition to what you’re already doing with anxiety and depression treatment (and kudos to you on taking care of yourself in that way!), you may be interested in finding out more about pulmonary rehab. Here are articles on the topic: https://copd.net/?s=%22pulmonary+rehab%22&submit=Go, and feel free to ask your doctor and specialist if they know of any programs near you. Many people find these programs to be very impactful on their everyday life.

    Also, please know you can come here any time you need information or support. We are here for you!

    Best,
    Jenn (Community Manager, COPD.net)

  • lynn2u
    3 years ago

    Me too! I feel the same way you do. Rehab was best and working on strength and stamina on a regular basis is still the only therapy I use because the medication side effects weakened me and made me feel worse. I also find yoga asanas and breathing exercises as well as yoga nidra or deep relaxation help and add variety to my health club muscle strengthening and stamina building routines and my dog says, “more walks” are best!

  • Laurajane
    3 years ago

    Hi I’m brand new to this site but feel inspired already.The fatigue & depression I’ve been feeling I never related to COPD.Knew I had it and continued to smoke.Its been 20 hours w/out a cigarette.Im 62 yrs. old and never go to the doctor…well,I will find out on Monday who to go to & force myself to go.I have had zero energy & the depression was killing me..fatigue is the worst..I feel like I’m dying most of the time…This is the first time I went on line..found this site…and I feel a little better already.For the past 2 years I’ve been going from my bed to the porch to smoke and walking my 2 dogs has been a struggle.What kind of doctor do I
    go to.?Have a nice day.I am thankful there is help out there.THANKYOU

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Laurajane – we’re glad you found our site! I see that Erin has provided you with some excellent reference articles to get started with. Remember, quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do for yourself for COPD! I’m sure you will continue in a positive direction. As I write this I see the hours you’ve been without a cigarette is now at almost 30 hours. Keep up the good work!
    If you haven’t as yet, you may want to check in at our Facebook page as well: https://www.facebook.com/copddotnet/
    You are more than welcome to visit as often as you like – we are all about COPD.
    Warm regards,
    Leon (site moderator)

  • Erin Rush moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Laurajane and welcome! We are glad to have you here. Quitting smoking is hard, but know you CAN DO IT! You might find this article from one of our contributors to be inspiring as you are quitting — https://copd.net/living/rewards-quitting-smoking-nutshell/. Also, if you have not been to the doctor in a long time, you may need to take the time to find the right one and establish a relationship with them. Starting out with a GP (general practitioner) may work. He or she may then refer you to a pulmonologist. You might start by seeing which doctors in your area are accepting new patients and take your insurance. This article on communicating with your doctor and getting the most out of your visits will help you make the most of your time with the physician — https://copd.net/living/tips-for-improving-communication-with-physician/?r=. Getting on a treatment plan may really help improve your energy levels and outlook. But, it is also totally normal to feel down and tired with COPD. We have many articles and stories on these topics and more, so feel free to look around and read how others with COPD are living with it. I hope this helps! Good luck getting in to see a doctor and please keep us posted on how you are doing. Thanks for being here! Best, Erin, COPD.net Team Member.

  • josho
    3 years ago

    I was diagnosed in 2003 with COPD. I was luck enough to have had Pulmonary Rehab several times. It not only helped my breathing, but also became my social outlet where I met people suffering the same thing I was. It’s very difficult for me to continue the exercise without the help of the class. Now that Medicare has a lifetime maximum of classes, I’m out of luck! I do have a treadmill here at home but I’m not using it as I should. Kudos to you that keep up the good work at home!

  • jcl author
    3 years ago

    Josho, Congratulations on finishing your pulmonary rehab program. I wish you the best of luck! It takes effort to use the treadmill regularly. I have been able to go to pulmonary rehab maintenance at the same place I went through the program. The cost is minimal and I can go for 2 hrs. 5 days a week if I wish. I only go twice weekly because it is 42 miles round trip. That takes effort also, but I don’t have a treadmill at home. I do get to see some of my rehab group when I go. I can use all of the exercise equipment also. When I don’t go to maintenance I walk in the neighborhood for 30 mins., do stretching exercises and lift hand weights. I feel better than I have felt in months and I know it is the exercise that is helping. I am in the moderate stage of COPD, but I am oxygen dependent at night and also with exercise. Do yourself a favor and if possible use the treadmill and exercise. I think you will be happy you did that. I hope to hear from you that you did that.

  • Christina Mattoni-Brashear moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi jcl!

    Congratulations on completing your rehab and continuing with your maintenance rehab – that is awesome!

    Thank you for sharing your story with us and for being part of our community. It sounds like you’ve done a lot of hard work and come a long way from being able to only walk 10 minutes before you were too tired to continue—what an inspiration you are!

    I thought you might enjoy this article on pulmonary rehab as well, from the perspective of a pulmonary treatment provider:

    https://copd.net/living/hope-and-belonging-what-pulmonary-rehab-means-to-me/

    Please stop by and let us know how you’re doing, and to share your positive attitude!

    Take care,
    -Christina
    (COPD.net Team)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    3 years ago

    We’re glad you found us, JCL, and appreciate that you’ve shared your experiences with pulmonary rehabilitation with our online community.
    You are always welcome here as we are all things COPD.
    Please feel free to participate in our online community as often as you like. You will find many like-minded community members online here as well as at our Facebook page.
    Best regards, Leon (site moderator)

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