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10 Tips for Exercising with COPD

The HealthCentral Editorial Team Nov 7th, 2012 (updated Mar 30th, 2016)
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Always consult your doctor before starting any exercise program. These are basic suggestions for people who have been approved to exercise under the supervision of a doctor or pulmonary rehabilitation professional.

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Wear good workout clothes
Wear good workout clothes

Wear clothes that move with you, supportive shoes that fasten snugly and socks that cushion your feet and absorb sweat.

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Use your "rescue" inhaler 15 minutes before
Use your "rescue" inhaler 15 minutes before

Ask your doctor if it would be ok for you to use it for this first. Doing this can help keep your bronchial airways as open as possible.

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Ask your oxygen company for a portable, lightweight system
Ask your oxygen company for a portable, lightweight system

If your doctor has recommended you use supplemental oxygen during exertion, ask your oxygen company for a portable system. Make sure you know how long it will last!

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Start slowly, even if you feel you can do more
Start slowly, even if you feel you can do more

If you haven’t exercised in a while your body needs to get used to it again. Don't overdo it on the first day, no matter how motivated you are.

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Do a three-minute warm-up, and cool-down stretches
Do a three-minute warm-up, and cool-down stretches

This means go slow and easy for the first three minutes. Don't go full out on cold muscles.Stretch just until you feel a gentle pull. Don't bounce!

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Walk half the distance you are capable of doing non-stop, then turn around.
Walk half the distance you are capable of doing non-stop, then turn around.

Let's say you want to walk outside and you know you’re able to walk for ten minutes non-stop. In this case, walk for five minutes, turn around, and go back to your starting point.Check out your walking route ahead of time (driving your car) to see if there are any places to sit down or lean on if you need to take a break.

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Add weight or resistance training to your routine
Add weight or resistance training to your routine

Only do this once it's been cleared by your doctor or physical therapist. When you’re starting out, lifting soup cans or bottled water will do.

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Don't exercise on an empty stomach
Don't exercise on an empty stomach

Have a light meal or a snack before your work out. Carbohydrates and proteins are good. If it is okay for your diet, peanut butter or cheese on crackers or a peanut butter sandwich works well. Add fresh fruit and eight ounces of water and you're ready to go!

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If possible, exercise in a group or with a buddy
If possible, exercise in a group or with a buddy

will keep you motivated, be more enjoyable, and make sure help is there if you need it.If you have to exercise alone inside, keep it interesting! Exercise where you can look out a window, watch TV, or listen to music. If you walk outside alone, walk in the daylight and carry a cell phone.

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Monitor your blood oxygen, heart rate and blood pressure
Monitor your blood oxygen, heart rate and blood pressure

If you’re in a pulmonary rehab program you’ll be monitored by the staff. If you’re exercising on your own, you can monitor your oxygen saturation and heart rate after you’ve been trained by a pulmonary exercise specialist.