ACSM notes that moderate exercise done on a daily basis has been shown to decrease the sensation of breathlessness for people with COPD while providing the greatest improvements in functional capacity. The group suggests that most people with COPD should aim for a minimum of 15 minutes of moderate physical activity at least three days per week. Exercises should include aerobic training for a total of 20-30 minutes as well as strength training for the major muscle groups in the lower portion of the body. ACSM also recommends endurance and strength training for the upper body. ACSM also notes that education on different breathing strategies can help people with COPD deal with periods of breathlessness and, thus, lower their anxiety about exercising. People with COPD also should be educated on the use and timing of prescribed medications while exercising.
Obviously, a person with COPD may have difficulty breathing when exercising. So what should they do? “Since breathlessness is usually a transient symptom during exercise, patients should slow down rather than stop suddenly,” ACSM states. “However, if the labored breathing persists, then stop and rest.” However, the person with COPD should stop exercising if he or she experiences other warning signals, including: nausea, lightheadedness; dizziness, headache or pressure or pain in the chest, neck, arm and jaw.
Primary Sources for This Sharepost:
American College of Sports Medicine. (2012). Exercise for persons with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. (2012). What is COPD?