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COPD and Exercise

Exercise is the fuel that drives the engine of any pulmonary rehabilitation program. Expectations from exercise include the decrease of shortness of breath (dyspnea)—especially upon exertion—and relief from the long-time fear of dyspnea.

Patients are educated to accept their own level of shortness of breath upon exercise practice as a means of increasing the tolerance of exercise.
Physiologically, exercise decreases shortness of breath for a certain level of exertion by lowering the ventilator rate, which empowers the patient to empty their lungs for the next breath/inhalation. This decreases lung hyperinflation, which in itself, is the breathing obstruction/limitation to exercise.

Exercise is the green light that enables more effective oxygen transport as it encircles gas exchange and the cardiovascular system at the cellular level.

The benefits of exercise typically are specific to that area of the body that the training is targeting. Accordingly, it is important to exercise the lower and upper extremities and train for endurance and strength.

Additional studies show benefits from exercising and resting the respiratory muscles. These exercises would include diaphragmatic and pursed lip breathing.