5 Low-Impact Exercises for People with COPD

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."

COPD Exercises - Stretching


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.

COPD Exercises - Walking

Light Weightlifting

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.

COPD Exercises - Biking

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.


About Scott Ridl: Scott joined American Medical Sales and Rentals in 2008 as a Web Manager and Content Writer. He is a writer and designer. He is extensively trained on oxygen therapy products from leading manufacturers such as Inogen, Respironics, Chart, Invacare, ResMed and more. Scott works closely with respiratory therapists and oxygen specialists to educate the community about oxygen therapy products, COPD, asthma and lung diseases. He writes weekly columns and is passionate about educating the community on oxygen therapy and respiratory issues.

7 thoughts on “5 Low-Impact Exercises for People with COPD”

  • jim ragland

    I have COPD and am on 4/5/liters of continuous oxygen. Is there a portable concentrator that I can use that would supply me with the oxygen I need? I do exercise often and try to go to a gym at least twice a week. Would a gym allow me to enter the pool with a oxygen tube?

    • Ed Rodgers

      Hello Jim,
      There are options for you regarding a portable oxygen concentrator. Give us a call and talk to one of our Oxygen Specialists who can best assess your needs and which concentrator will address your needs.

      It is fantastic to hear you exercise and get to the gym. Regarding entering the pool with the oxygen tube would be the discretion of your gym. I would ask them as to what they can help you with and what they permit.

      Good Luck.

  • Jacquelyn M Spencer
    Jacquelyn M Spencer March 27, 2019 at 1:36 am

    I have had a small concentrator given to me to use can I get any insurance to take care of problems that may come up withit thanks for information

    • Ed Rodgers

      Hi Jacquelyn,
      Thank you for the question.
      Let me answer your questions in two parts.

      Concentrator use requires a prescription. If you were given the concentrator based on your prescription that you have that is good. The second part is that if the concentrator was purchased new, for you, then the manufacturer likely has a warranty which will cover any problems or servicing of the concentrator. If it is a used concentrator that was bought second hand, the warranty might not cover it as it is not the original owner.

      As you have some unique questions, It might be best to give us a call and see how we may help you with what your experiencing.


    I think it's great hope you keep on. Thank you.

  • Hassan W. Afzal
    Hassan W. Afzal March 28, 2019 at 12:49 am

    Indeed the scheme of things appear to be providing immediate relief for a COPD patient like me. Thanks for sharing.

  • MaryAnn

    Very difficult doing any outdoor activity when there is do much mold, pollen and other allergens constantly cause Asthma& COPD symptoms to have become put of control!!!


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