Living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD, can be a struggle for the those diagnosed. COPD can cause shortness of breath, discomfort, and coughing, and it can also make everyday activities challenging. But even though being active and exercising can increase one’s shortness of breath, there are many benefits.
Exercise can increase energy, support a good night's sleep, and even strengthen your heart. According to the American Lung Association,
"Exercises help your blood circulate and helps your heart send oxygen to your body. It also strengthens your respiratory muscles."
Besides physical benefits, exercising can also increase overall happiness and emotional health. If you aren’t sure what exercises you should try, here are five low-impact exercises for people with COPD.
One way to get active while living with COPD is by stretching daily. This low-impact activity is good for those who haven’t worked out much in the past. Stretching can be your first step toward getting in an adequate amount of exercise. According to the Cleveland Clinic:
"Regular stretching also increases your range of motion and flexibility."
Another great form of low-impact exercise is swimming. If practiced regularly, swimming can support your heart, increase the health of your lungs, and lower your blood pressure. This type of aerobic exercise is right for those looking to improve muscle growth.
For those who want to get into regular exercise slowly, walking is a great low-impact activity. Plus, you can walk during practically any season, no matter where you live. You can go for a walk outside, indoors at a museum or grocery store, or on a treadmill at home or gym.
Interested in increasing your muscle mass? Incorporate light weightlifting into your weekly exercise routine. The COPD Foundation says, "Building up the large muscles of the lower body will decrease your feelings of shortness of breath." Using weights for your upper body can help you perform everyday tasks, such as doing laundry or cleaning the house, a little easier as well.
Riding a Bike
When the weather is nice, why not go for a bike ride? This is another great aerobic exercise that is good for people with COPD. If you aren’t used to riding a bike, go for a short ride until you feel comfortable enough to go outside your neighborhood or local park.
Before you start any new workout, be sure to ask your doctor if it’s right for your lifestyle and health goals. Once you’re cleared, start with a little bit of exercise at a time, then work your way up to doing a short activity every day. Find a portable oxygen concentrator that can travel with you on your daily exercise adventures!
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For more information about talk to your doctor or primary care provider.
- Cleveland Clinic. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/8709-chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease-copd
- Revere Health. Breathing and Exercise for COPD. https://reverehealth.com/live-better/breathing-exercise-copd/
- American Lung Association. Physical Activity and COPD. https://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/copd/living-with-copd/physical-activity.html
- Cleveland Clinic. COPD: Exercise & Activity Guidelines. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9450-copd-exercise--activity-guidelines
- Cleveland Clinic. Aerobic Exercise. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/7050-aerobic-exercise
- Exercise for Someone with COPD. https://www.copdfoundation.org/Learn-More/I-am-a-Person-with-COPD/Exercise.aspx