Pulmonary rehabilitation program has a goal of helping people with COPD by teaching them how to breathe easily with their condition and improve their quality of life. The program includes education, counselling, exercise training and breathing re-training.
Exercising regularly benefits overall body health, and by doing so it can improve the state of people with COPD. Physical activity improves the circulation and contributes to body’s better use of oxygen, increases endurance, lowers the blood pressure, strengthen bones, improve joint flexibility and balance, improve muscle tone and strength, reduces body fat, helps relief stress, anxiety, tension and depression, improve sleep, strengthen the hearth and cardiovascular system, build endurance to reduce being tired and short of breath.
Three basic types of exercise are stretching, cardiovascular (cardio) and strength.
Stretching improves the muscle length, and should be done before and after exercise. This will increase the flexibility and motion range of the body, and prevent muscle strain and injury.
Cardio works with large muscle groups. It improves lung and heart strength and improves use of oxygen. In time cardio workout lowers the blood pressure and heart rate, and improves the breathing.
Strength exercise works the muscles by repeated contraction. This tires the muscles and causes them to grow. COPD individuals benefit from this by strengthening the respiratory muscles.
The exercise should be done three to four times a week and last about 30 minutes. Every session should consist out of warm up, conditioning and cool down. Warm up prepares the body for the workout and prevents injury. It can include stretching, and low intensity movement.
Conditioning is the intense phase of the workout. It burns calories and builds up the body. The intensity of this phase should start at the comfort level and gradually increase over time.
Cool down phase brings the body back from the exercise state. It is performed by slowly decreasing the intensity off the workout and the blood pressure and heart rate will follow. Stretching can also be done in cool down phase.
Only way to see results is by exercising regularly, starting in the comfort zone, and slowly increasing the interval and intensity of the workout. It is important to choose enjoyable activity, so that the work out does not become a chore. Having a goal is a good idea. By setting a goal and monitoring the progress over time is encouraging and makes the individual appreciate the results of invested efforts. Workout should not be done one and a half hours after eating. The fluid intake during the exercise should be moderate. The pace of the exercise should be steady, and not leave a person breathless. There is no need to invest large sums of money into expensive exercise equipment. Serious results can be achieved just by using one’s own body weight.
Breathing during exercise is very important. It restores the sufficient amount of oxygen to the body and brain (prevents light-headedness). Inhale through the nose while in relaxed state, and exhale through pursed lips while under strain. Getting the right breathing pace may take some time, but is essential. The exercise breathing does not harm the lungs.