When you think about exercise, you might think you need to lace up your sneakers and go for a run, but there are many low impact exercises that are just as effective.
Walking is an effective low impact exercise that requires no equipment or memberships. Start with a short walk and rest if you feel short of breath. Count the number of steps you take while you inhale. Then exhale for twice as many steps. For example, if you inhale while taking two steps, exhale through pursed lips while taking the next four steps. Learn to walk so breathing in and exhaling out will become a habit once you find a comfortable breathing rate.
For many with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a stationary bike can be a great piece of low-impact aerobic exercise equipment. On a stationary bike, you can go at your own pace while reading or watching TV, and even ride with one leg at a time if that is more comfortable.
One of the best places to get low-impact cardio exercise is in a swimming pool. Swimming is a full body workout that doesn’t put stress on your bones, joints or muscles. You could swim on your own or try a structured water aerobics class.
Yoga is a gentle approach to exercise that involves breath work, stretching, meditation and mindfulness. The practice of yoga and yogic breathing mimics some of the exercises you might be taught as part of a pulmonary rehabilitation treatment, and can be a good way to build strength. You can visit a local yoga studio to take a group class, or find videos online to follow at home.
Exercising with COPD doesn’t have to be strenuous to be effective. These low impact exercises can help you to stay active with less stress. It’s always important to consult your doctor before starting an exercise routine.