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ASK THE DOCTOR: Can I exercise with COPD?

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tai chi
tai chi

Q. I have recently been diagnosed with COPD. My GP has said she would like me to exercise. Is this really still possible with this condition – and is it safe?

A. Studies have shown that if you exercise with COPD and keep regularly active it can improve breathing and help reduce some of your symptoms.

Many people find joining a walking or singing group helpful for increasing their lung capacity.

Others find physiotherapy, Tai chi or yoga can really help their fitness and breathing.

When you have COPD you may decide to be less active to avoid getting breathless.

This results in loss of fitness and confidence, which in turn increases your breathlessness.

Breathlessness itself is not dangerous, it is a normal response to exertion. Having COPD means this response can happen more quickly and is simply the lungs working harder to get more oxygen into your body.

You should exercise as much as you can, however limited that may be, twice a day.

Even chair-bound people can do some arm and upper-body movements.

You can improve your fitness and mobility by trying some simple exercises in the home.

Remember to ask a health care professional for approval before attempting any exercise.

If you experience any of the following symptoms you should stop exercising immediately:

  • coughing up unusual fluids;
  • worsening shortness of breath;
  • chest pains;
  • feeling dizzy/lightheaded;
  • too fast or an irregular heartbeat

Visit here for more information on living with COPD.

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