In pulmonary therapy we advise people who live with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) to perform specific exercises to strengthen their breathing capacity. While therapeutic exercises are very effective, there are exercises to avoid if you have COPD.
- Lifting Heavy Weights or Pushing
While it’s important to strengthen your muscles when you have COPD because weak muscles need more oxygen than strong muscles, you should never lift super heavy weights. Also be mindful of holding your breath when you lift heavy objects. That is called the Valsalva Maneuver and can elevate your heart rate and blood pressure to dangerous levels. Instead, exhale through your mouth when you lift light weights as tolerated.
- Isometric Exercises
Isometric exercises are when you push against immovable objects.
- Outdoor Exercises in Extreme Heat or Cold
Extreme temperatures can interfere with your ability to breathe because it affects your circulation. COPD exercise increases your circulation and that’s another reason why pulmonary exercise helps strengthen your breathing muscles.
If you have COPD, exercise might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but it’s very important to add pulmonary exercises to your daily activities to slow down the progression of COPD and improve your quality of life. To motivate my patients, I monitor their heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen during their exercises. Keep a pulse oximeter handy so you can see how your oxygen level increases as you get fitter.
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