Exercise training is strongly recommended for all patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The type and amount of exercise you do will depend on your age and how severe your condition is. But all people with COPD should perform some type of exercise, since exercise has positive effects on the muscles of your lungs and heart and it helps you to feel good about yourself. Many people with COPD think that they are too short of breath to exercise, and that exercising will make their condition worse. However, regular exercise helps to condition your muscles so that they become more efficient; as a result, you should start to feel less short of breath. Exercise also helps to increase your energy level; it strengthens your immune system, helps you to get a restful sleep and increases your bone density. In addition, exercise decreases your blood pressure, minimizes the side effects of steroid medication, which many people with COPD take, improves your mood and boosts your self-esteem, decreasing your risk of depression. Exercise also decreases your blood sugar level and burns up body fat, helping you to maintain a healthy weight.
It is important to find an exercise program that matches your physical condition, since overdoing it can be dangerous. It is important to start gradually and to do something that you enjoy, be it walking, swimming or bike riding. Pulmonary rehabilitation programs can provide you with guidance and counselling to get you exercising safely. They can also teach you breathing exercises designed to strengthen your lungs and manage shortness of breath. Speak to your doctor about using inhalers while you exercise and about the need for oxygen while exercising. If you are persistent and careful while carrying out your exercise routine, you should soon find yourself feeling less short of breath and able to accomplish more.