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The Importance of Physical Activity with COPD

Manage your condition and reap long-term health benefits by getting and staying active.

man an d woman exercising with barbells

If you have COPD, you may think that physical activity will make it harder for you to breathe. But exercise can actually help you breathe easier, decrease fatigue and improve physical stamina  It can help you control weight and better manage stress. And it can help to lower the risk of heart disease, some cancers and diabetes.

Before starting an exercise program or increasing your activity level, always talk to your doctor first. He or she can tell you what types and amounts of activities are safe for you. He or she can also tell you whether you need to take any special precautions with exercise. Remember to take it slow and choose activities that you enjoy.

Your exercise program may include the following:

1. Cardiovascular exercise. These are also known as aerobic activities. They use your large muscles and raise your heart rate. Examples include walking and water aerobics.

2. Muscle strengthening. These activities increase strength and endurance. They may work all major muscle groups. Examples include resistance training. Strengthening your body can help you to get around more easily.

3. Flexibility. Activities that stretch your muscles and increase your range of motion are also important. Be sure to warm up before you do stretching activities like yoga and tai chi.

Getting regular physical activity can help you manage your condition — so you feel better and can enjoy your life.

By Kristin Nelson, Contributing Writer

National Jewish Health. COPD: Lifestyle management. Accessed: March 30, 2015.
Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease. What you can do about a lung disease called COPD. Accessed: March 30, 2015.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What is physical activity? Accessed: March 30, 2015.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Facts about physical activity. Accessed: March 30, 2015.

Last Updated: April 23, 2015