6 Tips To Improve Life and Lung Function Through In-Home Exercise
We all know the benefits of physical activity: weight loss, increased stamina for day-to-day life, improved musculoskeletal strength, and boosted mood. When older adults specifically seek to prevent the development of breathing difficulties, cardiovascular exercise is one of the first recommendations any doctor will make. Fitness is a top contender in the mitigation and prevention of pulmonary disease and lung cancer. From COPD to asthma, working out (along with medication) is guaranteed to help; think of cardiovascular fitness like yoga for lungs!
The downside? An active lifestyle typically entails leaving your home, which can be inconvenient for many older adults. Getting to a gym tends to be a costly and time-consuming endeavor. Crowded fitness centers often lack privacy, and shared equipment can entail long waits–and germy surfaces. The average membership alone runs individuals around $700 a year. All in all, it’s no surprise that many people are opting for virtual fitness solutions, such as FlexTogether, to reach their activity goals. A customized at-home workout routine eliminates the inconvenience and exposure of shared gyms, while offering one-on-one guidance and motivation. In this post, the FlexTogether team has compiled our best tips for getting the most out of exercising at home–and improving lung function while you’re at it.
1. Dress for Success
At its core, fitness is movement of the human body. Any clothing or accessories that might impede stretching or walking will similarly hinder your workout. Some people prefer to wear stretchy apparel designed for exercise, while others feel more comfortable in loose clothing. Whichever you choose, make sure to opt for breathable fabrics that don’t squeeze you too tightly. Remember, when it comes to cardiovascular exercise, blood flow is the name of the game. It sounds silly, but imagine literal yoga for lungs–give your organs “room” to work out (increasing your lung capacity as they stretch)! As a good rule of thumb, athletic apparel should not create more breathing difficulties for you.
Pro tip: Dedicate specific wardrobe items to working out. This will help get you in the fitness mindset–and simplify your laundry day routine!
2. Equipment? Check.
To get the most out of any workout, some basic equipment is needed. Whether you’re getting into yoga or trying out a virtual HIIT session, tools such as mats, blocks, bands, weights, or sliding disks can optimize your comfort–or provide an extra challenge. The core objective here is better lungs; remember, working out is essentially pulmonary therapy! So don’t worry if your physical strength or flexibility is a work in progress. There are plenty of tools to help you bridge the gap between novice and whiz.
When you’re first starting out, however, don’t worry about investing in new items. Believe it or not, most exercise routines–including FlexTogether’s custom programs–benefit from a single piece of furniture present in every home: a chair! Choose a sturdy, non swiveling one; exactly what you might find at your kitchen or dining table. You’ll want it handy during workouts for stability and balance when holding poses or transitioning between different movements. Many fitness pros involve chairs as the main piece of equipment in their routines, from Cindy Crawford (Shape Your Body Workout) to Tracey Anderson (Tracey Anderson Method).
Pro tip: Check out this video from FlexTogether instructor Carol for guidance on the perfect chair for in-home fitness.
3. See Eye to Eye with Your Device
Like FlexTogether’s fitness platform, many of 2023’s best at home workouts can be delivered straight to your device or TV. To get the most out of your session, position your screen at eye level. Don’t get too close, however–you should be able to stretch your arms around you with full range of motion. Trust us, knocking over your device is the last thing you want interrupting the flow of your workout.
Pro tip: Eliminating distractions or annoyances from your workout makes all the difference when pursuing any form of pulmonary therapy (such as breathing exercises for COPD). Being able to focus on inhaling and exhaling through movements is crucial to your mission for better lungs. Think of it like this: with every intentional, full, strong breath, you are gradually increasing your lung capacity!
4. Safety First
Check with a doctor before pursuing any fitness session, whether it focuses on pulmonary therapy, COPD, lung function, lung cancer–or simply increasing lung capacity. Optimally, choose an exercise course that involves input from real doctors, like FlexTogether’s. These dedicated physicians can evaluate your goals and establish an achievable regimen that is not overly taxing. This is especially crucial if you are managing any chronic health conditions, or are recovering from an injury.
Pro tip: Many people can overlook the risk that rugs, potted plants, lamps, baskets and pet accessories can pose during in-home workouts. Make sure to move these items out of the way before getting in the groove with a virtual workout. Once you establish a fitness routine, you can think about clearing a dedicated space in your home for staying active. Basements, garages, and spare rooms are popular choices–not to mention the backyard on beautiful days!
5. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Thanks to modern technology, you don’t have to forgo the benefits of a personal trainer when avoiding the gym. Digital health apps like FlexTogether can pair you with a fitness buddy who sees and hears you working out in real time! Virtual health partners offer support and motivation while optimizing accountability. If you find yourself discouraged or confused while exercising, a workout partner or instructor might be exactly what you’re looking for.
A device stand can make all the difference when staying “in frame” for remote fitness sessions with a professional. Some popular stands can clip to ledges, while others fold out of the device case itself. Invest in one that makes sense for your lifestyle; you’ll likely find that it serves many purposes around your home.
Pro tip: In a pinch? Try propping your device up with a stack of books, or creating a DIY stand solution.
6. Have FUN!
It’s true: with a little preparation, nothing stands in the way of reaching fitness goals from the comfort of your own home. Keep in mind, however, that the most crucial factor for integrating daily fitness into your life is enjoying it! Workouts are a fabulous opportunity for “you” time–with the added perk of boosting your mood, aiding digestion and improving health outcomes.
Pro tip: For more information on staying active as an older adult, check out this video from the FlexTogether team.
Are you managing a chronic lung condition at home? FlexTogether is a comprehensive telehealth practice bringing respiratory rehab into your home.