8 Ways to Improve Quality of Life with COPD
Allison Tsai | Jun 12th 2013 Nov 12th 2016
Being diagnosed with COPD can be scary and life-changing. But you can still live a rich and engaging life; you just need to make some adjustments. Here are some tips for getting the most out of every day.
Try Tai Chi
A recent study published in the European Respiratory Journal found that tai chi can improve exercise ability and quality of life in people with COPD. Researchers suggest that the benefits are akin to pulmonary rehab. Moderate exercise is an important component to treatment for COPD, as it helps to improve strength and symptoms of breathlessness.
Stick with your treatment plan
Your doctor has likely prescribed medication that works to improve your breathing, so it is important to take it exactly as prescribed. If you still have questions about how you should be taking your medicine, call your doctor. If you feel your medication isn’t working, your doctor can prescribe supplemental oxygen.
Use supplemental oxygen
Although supplemental oxygen requires that you be tethered to a plastic tube, it can do wonders for your mobility. It can allow you to go out to dinner or to a friend’s house without being too tired or unable to catch your breath. It has also been proven to extend the life span of people with COPD.
Practice pursed lip breathing
Pursed lip breathing (PLB) is a technique that involves breathing through your nose and exhaling through pursed lips, as if you were going to whistle. This technique creates a back pressure on the inside walls of the airways, which actually holds the airways open. This type of technique should be practiced with a pulmonary health professional before trying it on your own.
Pacing yourself during daily activities in important to conserving your energy and your breath. Remember to walk slowly and breathe in rhythm as you go. Try not to walk and talk at the same time, as it will take too much energy. Planning ahead and being vigilant about breathing while you are on the move will help you breathe better and be able to do the things you want to do.
Maintain a healthy weight
People with COPD tend to be either overweight or underweight. People who are overweight struggle to exercise and be active, while people who are underweight do not have the energy to eat. Try to keep a healthy weight, either by doing moderate exercise like tai chi, or eat calorie-rich, but healthy foods if you are underweight.
Commit to pulmonary rehab
Pulmonary rehabilitation is a program of exercises and education designed for people with COPD. It will help you to gain strength, stamina and flexibility and help you learn about your lungs and how to stay as healthy as you can. Breathing techniques, pacing, conserving energy, proper nutrition, relaxation and effective use of medication are all parts of this rehab program.
Don’t isolate yourself
People with COPD tend to cut back on going out and doing things because it’s harder and can be tiring and even embarrassing. But maintaining relationships and participating in social activities will improve your outlook on life.