Get a Move On! 5 Pulmonary Rehab Exercise Types for COPD Patients

Get a Move On! 5 Pulmonary Rehab Exercise Types for COPD Patients

Pulmonary rehabilitation (or rehab) is a customized set of physical and learning objectives centered around a patient’s lung function.  Individuals can pursue pulmonary rehab on their own or in groups.  Either way, this form of care is administered and supervised by specialized health professionals who are well-versed in physiology, cardiovascular training, and chronic breathing conditions.  With their support, patients are educated on:

How their lungs work

  • What lifestyle choices affect pulmonary function
  • Why cardiovascular exercise is crucial towards lung health

In addition, pulmonary rehab brings daily exercise into patients’ lives, opening up a whole new hobby for many in the process.  In the early stages of treatment, your therapist will likely start off with simple routines, designed to ease you into cardiovascular activity.  As patients gain more independence, however, they often enjoy diversifying their exercise repertoire.  This is a fun way to explore getting fit, but is also effective; research shows that mixing up your workout routine improves overall fitness–and keeps you engaged.  

Here, the FlexTogether Team has assembled 5 of their top go-to exercises; many of which are available in FlexTogether's program!

1. Weightlifting

Light weightlifting can be a great addition to your regular exercise routine! In terms of exercise, multiple reps with lighter weights can provide numerous health benefits, including: better range of motion, augmented strength, and boosted muscle mass. As a safer alternative to other high-impact workouts, light weight lifting acts as a more targeted option to build strength.

FlexTogether Tip: Using soup cans as weights, Clarissa’s new seated strength class couldn’t be more accessible! Have fun and build strength using items already in your home. Try Clarissa’s “Strength with Cans” class today!

2. Dance

Vicki Baum once said, “There are shortcuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them.”  She’s not wrong, especially when it comes to implementing dance as a form of exercise.  It’s popular with many patients due to the fact that it’s fun, musical–participants often report “forgetting” that they’re working out.  Dancing isn’t a “mindless” pursuit by any stretch, however!  It ranks as one of the most mentally engaging forms of exercise, as well as one that optimizes mood.  Dancing activates many different muscle groups simultaneously which makes it a well-rounded exercise option.  Another perk?  Zero equipment needed–except a playlist of your favorite tunes!

FlexTogether Tip: Try Cindy’s Latin Dance class in the FlexTogether program! 

3. Resistance Training

Your muscles expand and contract whenever you make any kind of movement.  Resistance training occurs when you apply resistance (in other words, weight) to those contractions.  As its name suggests, this form of exercise improves your muscle strength over time, and is crucial towards optimizing bone health.  In a complete exercise regimen, strength training should accompany cardiovascular exercise.  Together, these two types can boost your body’s fat-cutting efforts while upping the calories you burn in a given day.  Think of it like this: by strengthening your bones and muscles, you improve your overall performance when exerting yourself aerobically.  Resistance training can be accomplished using a range of items, spanning from your own body weight to stretchy bands.

FlexTogether Tip: Strength training is a core component of many FlexTogether workouts. And for good reason, as it is also effective in preventing falls!

4. Yoga

Yoga is a hot fitness option that tons of people are talking about these days.  It has several benefits: a yoga routine can be modified to suit a range of experience levels, there is minimal equipment involved, it incorporates a great deal of (much-needed) stretching, and it promotes mindfulness and tranquility.  There is a common misconception that yoga is most ideal for the naturally flexible–this is not the case.  Yoga allows individuals of all body types and athletic levels to practice (gently) pushing their movements in new directions, accompanied by intentional breathwork.  While any form of exercise is a viable contender in the fight against stress, yoga is regarded as a top option for anxiety relief (and lowering blood pressure).  There are many types of yoga, ranging from “hot” sessions to calming, pre-slumber flows.  The key? Start off with simple poses aimed at minding your breath.

FlexTogether Tip:  A few morning yoga poses can start your day off positively.

5 . Qigong

Qigong (pronounced chee-gung) is the study and practice of cultivating vital life-force through various techniques. The study of Qigong is rooted in Chinese medicine, philosophy, and martial arts.

The gentle, rhythmic movements of Qigong have been proven as a highly effective exercise for older adults. Regardless of ability or age, mere minutes can provide a multitude of health benefits including correcting back posture, strengthening muscles and bones, and improving overall balance.

FlexTogether Tip: Learn more about the practice of Qigong with FlexTogether’s introductory video.

Are you managing a chronic lung condition at home? FlexTogether is a comprehensive telehealth practice bringing respiratory rehab into your home.

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