COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a debilitating illness that makes it hard to breathe. It is often caused by long-term exposure to irritating gases such as cigarette smoke. Patients with COPD have increased the risk of heart disease and lung cancer. However, this does not mean that COPD patients neglect doing exercise.
In fact, exercise is important to help save lung function and slow down the progression of the disease. Since COPD makes high-intensity exercises impossible, there are special exercises to help maintain chest muscle active.
Here are best exercises for COPD patients.
- Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercises for COPD patients include low-impact exercises such as walking, biking, and water aerobics. Walking as far as you can and not getting short of breath is the first step. Make sure that while you walk, you do deep breathing. Rest when you need to and gradually increase the distance and duration when you think you can.
Most COPD patients shy away from any form of exercises because they believe it is bad for the lungs. But the truth is inactivity, or lack of exercise may make breathing worse. Stretching is the best exercise to start with as the patient’s body and lungs slowly adapt.
How is it done? Breathe-in while raising the arms and breathe-out when lowering them. Another exercise is to sit in a straight-backed chair while arms are stretched out in front, then slowly breathe in and out. Repeat the exercise while making sure you rest in between exercises.
COPD patients need to strengthen their diaphragm which will help facilitate easier breathing. The diaphragm is the dome-shaped muscle that moves up and down when you breathe. This muscle supports the lungs, and thus your breathing.
How is it done? First, the patient should lie on its back with a pillow under the knees; one hand is on the stomach while the other hand should be on the chest. Slowly breathe-in while making sure the abdomen rises while keeping the chest still. Breathe in slowly counting to three and then breathe out slowly through pursed lips.
- Special Breathing Exercise
The special breathing exercise is pursed-lip breathing. This exercise prevents air to be trapped in your lungs and allows the patient to breathe in more fresh air.
How is it done? It’s simple: neck and shoulders should be relaxed, then breathe in through the nose and count to three, next is release the air through the “pursed” lips, much like a whistle, then exhale without forcing the air out.
Improving lung health for COPD patients is the goal to beat this disease. It is also important that the patient works with health care providers to learn how to manage COPD symptoms. Most doctors or lung health specialists will prescribe pulse oximeter sensors to monitor the patient’s blood oxygen levels especially during exercise or any activity.