How does exercise benefit people with COPD?


Pulmonary rehabilitation has clear benefits for patients with COPD. Exercise increases endurance, improves shortness of breath, increases maximal oxygen consumption, improves quality of life and decreases the overall length of stay in the hospital.

Exercising with mild to moderate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is both safe and encouraged. Long term exercise will help you better manage your breathing and help you feel less short of breath during everyday activities. By working your heart and lungs, you improve how your body uses oxygen, strengthen your heart, lower blood pressure and improve circulation.

When exercising, your pulse should not exceed your resting pulse by more than twenty beats per minute. Talk to your doctor before you begin any exercise to tailor a program to meet your needs.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, exercise can actually improve your lung capacity and ability to breathe. On the other hand, becoming sedentary may make lung function worse. But because of your chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you need to work closely with your doctor or respiratory therapist to develop a safe, manageable exercise routine. Ideally, it should include in-home pulmonary rehabilitation exercises as well as endurance and strength training to help strengthen your breathing muscles and increase your lung capacity. Again, be sure to check with your doctor or pulmonary specialist before beginning any new exercise program.

Dr. Brian Gelbman, MD
Pulmonary Disease Specialist

Exercise is beneficial to patients with COPD; exercise helps support strong muscles, making it easier on the lungs to deliver oxygen. Watch pulmonologist Brian Gelbman, MD, explain the impact of exercise on COPD and what types are recommended.

Continue Learning about Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Treatment

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Treatment

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Treatment

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a type of long-term lung disease where airflow in the lungs is restricted, making breathing difficult. COPD usually results after years of smoking; the best way to keep it from getti...

ng worse is to quit. Treatment options include medications, inhalers, pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy and lifestyle changes like exercise and quitting smoking.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.