Tips for Exercising With COPD

  • Stop exercising if you feel dizzy or weak, have palpitations, become short of breath or experience pain. If you are in a great deal of pain or discomfort, call your doctor.
  • Don't exercise outside on high-ozone days or on days that are too cold, hot, or humid. Extreme temperatures can make breathing difficult.
  • If your medications change, ask your doctor whether the adjustment will affect your ability to exercise.
  • If your exercise regimen has been interrupted for a few days, reduce your activity level when you resume and then build up to your regular schedule.

Before You Start—Or Stop

Before you start an exercise program, remember these two important caveats. First, if you haven't previously exercised, check with your doctor before starting to be sure it's okay. Your doctor can also tell you what types of exercises are best and how much you should do.

Second, if your doctor prescribed oxygen for regular use, be sure to use it when you exercise. Oxygen will help relieve breathlessness, making it easier for you to exercise.

Also, don't forget that if you stop exercising regularly, all the gains you made will be lost. So if you're exercising as part of a pulmonary rehab program, you'll need to incorporate your exercise routine into your daily life after the program ends. One option is to ask if your program has a maintenance plan that allows you to continue exercising with others with COPD. Alternatively, the program staff can design a program for you to continue at home.

If you've been a home-based exerciser from the start, try some new exercises so you don't get bored with the same old routine. If you need motivation, try exercising with a friend. You'll likely end up motivating each other.

Publication Review By: Peter B. Terry, M.D., M.A.

Published: 12 Aug 2013

Last Modified: 12 Aug 2013