If you think you can’t handle exercise because you have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), think again. Exercise helps your body use oxygen more efficiently, strengthens your cardiovascular system and can help you de-stress. Activity doesn’t have to be strenuous; there are many low impact exercises that can strengthen your body. Check out these three categories of exercise that have proven results for COPD patients.
Stretching, according to the COPD Foundation helps you stay limber and combats stiffness. When you stretch, you slowly lengthen and warm up your muscles, and this helps you to prevent injury while you exercise. Stretching over time also improves your overall range of motion.
Yoga is a popular exercise that incorporates stretching. In fact, the word yoga means “union” in Sanskrit, states Portland Community College and concentrates on creating a balance in the body through strength, flexibility and breathing. This is accomplished through a series of poses, each of which has specific physical benefits. Yoga stretching teaches you to focus on your breathing and the way your body is positioned while you stretch.
In a 2010 study, scientists evaluated the effects of yoga training on the quality of life (QOL) and lung function in 33 patients with COPD. Patients were taught yoga related breathing, meditation and poses for one hour, three times a week for six weeks by a certified yoga practitioner. A total of 22 patients completed the study, and their QOL and lung function were evaluated at the end of six weeks. The patients’ QOL and lung function significantly improved, and the scientists determined that yoga improves QOL and lung function on a short-term basis for COPD patients.
Aerobic exercises stimulate your cardiovascular system to improve the way your body uses oxygen, the Mayo Clinic shares on its site. Walking is an easy, low-impact exercise that helps you to build endurance and strengthen your muscles. The more you walk, the more you’ll increase your exercise tolerance. As your endurance climbs, breathing during exercise (and when you’re at rest) will become easier.
In addition to improved breathing, regular exercise, has the added benefits of:
- Controlling your weight
- Lowering your blood pressure
- Improving sleep and helping you to relax
- Improving your mental and emotional outlook
Strength training involves contracting muscles to increase strength and lean muscle mass, according to the Mayo Clinic . If the mention of strength training conjures up images of Arnold Schwarzenegger, don’t fret; you don’t need to be a professional bodybuilder in order to strengthen your respiratory muscles. In a 2011 study, 36 patients with COPD were evaluated to determine the effects of endurance training (ET), progressive strength training (ST) and the combination of strength training and endurance training over a 12-week period. Scientists concluded that progressive strength training increases muscle strength, quality of life and exercise capacity in COPD patients.
If you are suffering from COPD, exercise can make a significant improvement in your overall quality of life by strengthening your body and helping you to do more with oxygen. Always remember to consult your physician before beginning a new exercise routine. For more information about staying healthy with COPD, download this free guide today.