‘Let’s Get Moving!
You may think that because you have COPD, you shouldn’t exert yourself. But exercise has many payoffs, such as helping your body use oxygen better. Your doctor or pulmonary rehab team can help you design a workout plan and set goals, such as starting with a few minutes of exercise per day and working up to 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week. Once you get the green light, try these aerobic, strength, and flexibility exercises that are safe for people with COPD. Aim for a More Active Life
Even if you don’t have time for a daily workout, look for opportunities to become more active. For instance, do a few stretches when you get up in the morning or while watching TV. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Park farther away from store entrances. Rather than sitting in a movie, go to a park or Mall where you can walk around. Small bouts of activity add up over time!
Reason 1: I get short of breath quickly. I can’t exercise long enough for it to do any good.
Any exercise is better than none. You may be able to exercise for only a few minutes, but you will soon be able to add more. Remember to congratulate yourself for your efforts. Log your exercise so that you can see your progress.
Reason 2: I am too tired.
Strengthening your heart and lungs will help you feel less tired in the long run. Aerobic Exercise #1: Arms Up
Sitting in a chair, hold a rolled towel or elastic band on your lap with both hands. Relax your shoulders and keep your back straight. Inhale. Exhaling through pursed lips, lift both arms to shoulder level. At the end of your exhale, inhale and return to starting position. As you continue to practice this exercise, try lifting your arms higher and higher until they’re able to go straight overhead.
Aerobic Exercise #2: The Wave
Sit in a chair. Inhale. As you exhale, lift both arms toward the ceiling. Wave your arms right and left until you’re done exhaling. Be careful not to twist your body as you do this. Inhale and return to starting position.
Reason 3: I am too busy.
Exercise can help slow the effects of COPD and the need for medical care and hospital stays. So every bit of exercise you do is an investment in your ability to do things you enjoy.
Aerobic Exercise #3: Walking
If you use a treadmill, be sure you learn how to use it correctly first. Whether you walk indoors or outdoors, choose a place with a flat surface. Start walking at a pace that’s comfortable for you, and remember to breathe while you walk. As your endurance improves, your doctor may recommend increasing your speed or adding an incline.
Strength Exercise #1: Bicep Curl
Stand or sit holding a light weight in each hand. Keeping your arms straight and at your sides with your palms facing forward, inhale. As you exhale, slowly bend your elbows and lift the weights to shoulder level. Inhale while you lower to your starting position. Ask your doctor or pulmonary rehab team how many you should do.
Reason 4: Exercise is too much work.
Exercise does take a lot of effort. But compare that effort to the option of getting sicker and weaker with COPD. Helping your body get more oxygen by exercising is a good way to decrease the frequency of headaches, sleep trouble and other COPD effects.
Reason 5: I don’t like to exercise.
Exercise doesn’t have to be tedious. In fact, experts say that people who do something they enjoy are much more likely to stick with it. You can garden, dance or walk and get great results.
Strength Exercise #2: Side Lift
Stand up straight and hold on to the back of a chair with one hand. Inhale. As you exhale, lift one foot to the side. Lift it only a few inches off the ground, and keep your toes pointing forward. Inhale and lower it back to your side. Repeat several times, and then do the exercise on the opposite side.
Reason 6: I’m afraid to exercise.
Talk openly with your doctor about your concerns. Ask what is safe for you and how to handle symptoms you have during exercise.
Strength Exercise #3: Leg Raise
Lie on the floor on your back. Bend one knee and place the sole of the foot flat on the floor. Keep the other leg straight out in front of you. Inhale. As you exhale, lift the straight leg until that knee lines up with your bent one. Inhale as you lower your leg. Repeat several times, and then switch legs. DO these exercises during a break sitting in your office chair! Sit Square with your back straight and your feet on the floor!
Stretching Exercise #1: Shoulder Roll
Stand with your hands on your hips or arms by your side—whichever is more comfortable. Relax your shoulders and inhale. As you exhale, slowly roll your shoulders in a circle going forward. At the end of your exhale, return to your starting position. Inhales, and this time, as you exhale, roll your shoulders in a circle going backward.
Stretching Exercise #2: Calf Stretch
Facing a wall, gently place the palms of your hands on the wall with elbows slightly bent. Be careful to use the wall only for balance; don’t push against it. Step your left foot a foot or two behind you. Keeping your toes pointing forward and your right knee slightly bent, gently lower your back heel toward the floor. You’ll feel the stretch in the back of your left calf. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, remember to breathe, and return to starting position. Repeat the stretch with your right leg in back.
Stretching Exercise #3: Quad Stretch
Stand with the right side of your body facing a chair, and hold on to the back of the chair with your right hand for balance. Inhale. As you exhale, bend your left knee behind you and reach back to grasp your left ankle with your left hand. Gently pull so your knees line up while keeping your hips facing forward. You’ll feel a stretch in your left thigh. As you exhale, lower the foot to the floor. Repeat with the left leg several times, and then turn so you’re holding onto the chair with your left hand. Repeat the stretch with the right leg.’
Medical Reviewer: Marcellin, Lindsey, MD; Fraser, Marianne, MSN, RNLast Annual Review Date: Jul 24, 2012Copyright: © Health Ink & Vitality Communications
Reviewed by BJT 2013 July MLTC.