Exercise & COPD


A COPD patient expends extra energy just to breathe. If this energy is used more efficiently for breathing, he will have more energy left for performing routine activities or participating in new activities. Hence, active participation in some form of exercise, along with proper nutrition, can significantly improve quality of life. But it is always better to consult your doctor before starting any exercise programme.

  • Monitor your status with peak flow meter before and afterdoing exercises
  • Start with five minute exercise two to three times a day and gradually increase it to 15-20 minutes three to four times a week.
  • Proceed at a comfortable pace. You don’t have to compete with anyone.
  • Put comfortable pair of shoes and loose clothing while exercising
  • Do some warm up exercises before starting to exercise like for example if you have chosen walking as your aerobic exercise, you can warm up by starting out at a slow pace for five or ten minutes.
  • Walking is one of the easiest and healthier exercise for patients with COPD
  • Try to do a variety of exercises like swimming, cycling, gardening, walking, upper body exercises
  • Exercise with a friend as it will help making your exercises more fun and also avoid you from overdoing it.
  • Don’t stop exercising abruptly. Take time to cool down by stretching or doing swimming or walking slower pace.
  • Even if you are on supplemental oxygen there are some low impact aerobic exercise which you can do, ask you doctor to guide you.
  • Immediately stop exercising if you experience :
    • shortness of breath
    • dizziness
    • pain in chest
  • While doing exercises always keep your emergency medications with you
  • Yoga has also been found to be helpful

Learn better way to breathe

These few exercises will help your lungs get more air.

  • Holding your breath : This helps to extend the time for your lungs to exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide and thereby helps the blood to take in more oxygen. to do the exercise :
    • First breathe in.
    • Then try to hold your breath for three seconds.
    • Finally breathe out.


  • Use of Incentive Spirometer for 15 minutes twice a day also helps in strengthening breathing muscles and loosening sputum. This is a small device containing a breathing gauge. The patient exhales and then inhales forcibly through the tube, using the pressure of inhalation to raise the gauge to the highest level possible.