COPD: Lifestyle Management



An exercise program is another very important step in managing COPD. It is common for people with lung disease to limit physical activities because they are afraid of becoming short of breath. But regular exercise can improve your heart, lungs and muscles, and it can help you breathe easier and feel better. Many people with COPD enjoy walking, water aerobics and riding a stationary bike.


Medication to Help You Exercise

People with COPD often use a metered-dose inhaler before exercise to decrease shortness of breath. Some people with COPD need oxygen therapy while exercising. Portable oxygen units are available. Talk with your healthcare provider about recommending an exercise program for you.


Getting Started

Before starting an or exercise program, always talk to your doctor about your plan to be sure that it is safe, and then speak with qualified experts about establishing a weight control program. Then, start with slow, small steps rather than attempting a quick "lifestyle overhaul." Changing lifelong patterns is a gradual process and succeeding in many little steps can be encouraging, where failing at a quick major change is definitely discouraging.

Exercise Tips

  • While exercising, remember to inhale (breathe in) before starting the exercise. 

  • Exhale (breathe out) through the most difficult part of the exercise. 

  • Purse your lips while breathing. 

  • Don't hold your breath while exercising. 

  • Count out loud as you do the exercises.


Exercises You Can Do at Home

These are simple exercises you can do at home to improve your breathing, strength and ability to move. For this exercise program, proper posture is encouraged. Start this group of exercises with the axial extension. As your posture improves, you will automatically assume this position for your exercise routines.

  • Axial Extension: Improves posture.  

  • Shoulder Blade Squeeze: Opens your chest muscles and helps improve posture.

  • Dowel Exercise: Strengthens your arm muscles. This exercise also will decrease your feeling of breathlessness by strengthening your breathing muscles. 

  • Shoulder Horizontal Abduction: Strengthens your arms and shoulders.

  • Modified Knee Bends: Improves and maintains strength in your hips and knees.

  • Step Ups: Improves and maintains strength in your legs and improves your balance.