The Importance of Pulmonary Rehabilitation for COPD Patients
Pulmonary rehabilitation is a great addition to drugs and oxygen therapy for COPD management. It consists of an exercise program, educational sessions to help you achieve more results, including breathing easier, improving lung function, having more energy, feeling and living better.
If you haven't started pulmonary rehabilitation for COPD yet, talk to your doctor to see if you can benefit from it.
What to Expect from Pulmonary Rehabilitation Exercises
The key component of pulmonary rehab is the exercise program, and some rehab centers will focus exclusively on these. You will learn and practice a variety of exercises, some will even target the lower body (through walking on a treadmill or stair climbing).
According to research studies, leg exercises have been shown to greatly improve lung function. Upper body exercises will focus on improving your breathing and better deal with day-to-day activities — many exercises in this group will target the arms and chest (for example turning a crank against resistance or lifting your arms against gravity).
Other exercises are specifically designed to make your breathing muscles stronger: you will get a mouthpiece and have to breathe through it against resistance. These exercises are especially recommended for those who have weak lung function.
Expect to lift some weights during the rehab program as well. Strength training has proven benefits for COPD sufferers because it increases muscle strength and bulk while helping you breathe easier and have more energy.
The Educational Components of Pulmonary Rehabilitation for COPD Patients
Some centers include educational sessions, delivered one-on-one or in a group. During these sessions, you learn about the medications you take (how to use inhalers properly, how the drugs work), or how to use oxygen therapy.
If you still smoke, you will learn about the benefits of quitting smoking, how to quit smoking (techniques, treatment options) and how to stay away from cigarettes for the rest of your life.
Some centers offer psychological support and provide relaxation techniques and counseling. Dietary recommendations are also included because a healthy diet is essential to manage COPD and it's symptoms better.
A Look at Russell's Experience With Pulmonary Rehabilitation for COPD
I’m often amazed by how many people diagnosed with COPD are unaware of the importance of pulmonary rehabilitation for COPD treatment and just how important it is to consider different rehab options to find a program that’s right for them.
What Is Pulmonary Rehabilitation?
Pulmonary rehabilitation programs are designed to educate patients about their disease and start them on a basic exercise program that includes breathing techniques to help them breathe more effectively when problems arise.
Programs will vary from country to country, but the same theories apply. When looking into rehab programs, find one that's ongoing and aims to increase your exercise capacity. For me, this is very important, as I'm a firm believer in vigorous exercise for COPD patients as the benefits have been shown.