How to Have an Active Life with the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive respiratory disease that makes breathing very difficult and laborious. Prolonged smoking is the most common cause of the disease; however, it may also result in long exposure to lung irritants or untreated asthma. People who suffer from it usually have a cough, breathlessness, shortness of breath and chest tightness. Symptoms can occur at any time during any type of activity; this can make it difficult to maintain an active life, but the movement is one of the main methods for managing the disease and preventing further health problems. Keeping in touch with your doctor, going regularly to your clinic for checks and performing lung exercises, you can feel better, breathe with less difficulty and maintain an active life.
Perform activities and physical exercises
1) Start physical activity calmly.
If you suffer from the severe lung disease such as COPD, you must be particularly cautious when undertaking an exercise routine; although the activity can help improve discomfort, it is important to start slowly.
If you have never been too active, it is advisable to start very cautiously; do not feel compelled to engage in too long exercise sessions.
Many doctors recommend starting with only 5 or 10 minutes of activity.
Placing more activities in the daily routine and being more active for long periods helps you to have more confidence in yourself, as well as strengthening the body.
2) Move more.
Making everyday life more dynamic is an excellent way to stay active without getting exaggerated; it’s not about cardio exercise, but it helps keep the body moving and the lungs active.
For activities in ordinary life, we mean those exercises that are part of the normal daily routine; it can be housework or garden work, climbing and descending stairs and walking to and from a place.
If you suffer from COPD, you may find it difficult to perform some of these activities in the beginning; for this reason, the daily ones represent an excellent starting point for improving and monitoring progress.
For example, if you have difficulty walking for long distances, at the beginning you can set yourself to go to the mailbox every day; if you can not easily climb stairs, ask a family member to help you do them more often during the day.
3) Always warm up.
When you are ready for more demanding and structured exercises, you can consider putting in some preliminary warm-up, an essential aspect of safe exercise.
Its purpose is to slowly prepare the body for the next more intense exercises.
For people suffering from this disease, it is a particularly important phase, because the body needs more time to reach the respiratory rate, heart rate and the body temperature higher.
Not to mention that it also helps prevent muscle soreness and improves flexibility.
Start by doing simple stretches or walking very slowly for at least 5 or 10 minutes.
4) Add low-intensity cardio exercises.
Unless your doctor gives you other indications, you should only do moderate aerobic activities, which are the safest for patients with COPD.
Try using the effort perception scale to avoid exceeding the intensity level; is a scale that provides values from 1 to 10, where 1 represents a totally sedentary situation and 10 the highest level of effort.
Patients with the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease should aim to reach level 3 or 4, which can be a rather intense effort for the heart, but should not lead to breathing difficulties; at this level, you should be able to speak and make short speeches without having to pause.
The activities you can consider are: walking, walking in the water, cycling or using an elliptical bike.
5) Do some moderate strength exercise.
Aerobic activity is perfect for improving the health of the lungs and the cardiovascular system; however, the exercise of strength is important to your illness.
In particular, what involves the trunk and the upper part of the body helps to strengthen the muscles surrounding the thoracic cavity, which, being stronger, facilitate the process of inhalation and exhalation.
Take only one or two days a week for this type of training and do not do sessions longer than 20 minutes.
Use the dumbbells or the weight machine to develop muscle strength and tone.
7) Try yoga to do breathing exercises.
Both of these practices are great for strengthening the muscles and are highly recommended for COPD patients.
They represent a low-intensity exercise that focuses particularly on the breath.
They help maintain a slow breathing and heart rhythm while performing deep breathing exercises.
If they are performed regularly, these practices improve coordination and respiratory functions.
Insert yoga or Pilates classes into your routine once or twice a week, which can also perform the function of strength exercises.
Stay Safe During Physical Exercise
8) Always bring emergency drugs with you.
Whenever programs to make the movement, you must be prepared and ensure your safety; an important part of this aspect is having the drugs with you.
All patients with this lung disease always have emergency drugs at their fingertips, whether they are inhalers or oral products, which help relieve symptoms almost immediately.
Make sure you always have emergency drugs and action plan at your disposal; keep them in your car, at home, in your handbag or in your briefcase and in the gym bag.
You must be able to access it at any time; do not leave home without having them with you and do not even engage in physical activity if you do not have them at hand.
9) Know the symptoms.
The action plan must list in detail the reactions to the various possible situations; knowing exactly what the disturbances that may occur is an essential part of this intervention plan.
Even if you can meet other patients who suffer from the same disease, each person has different characteristics.
Make sure you know exactly what your symptoms are and what you need to do when they show up.
Those to pay attention to are dyspnea, difficulty breathing, chest tightness, cough.
If they are triggered when you are doing physical activity, stop your training immediately and treat them as directed by your doctor.
10) Exercise with a friend.
It’s not just a fun way to stay active, but it also helps you feel a little safer and more comfortable.
COPD patients may feel nervous, frightened or anxious when they exercise – but also during normal daily activities. A respiratory crisis involves symptoms that can throw people in a panic.
To reduce the anxiety and stress that derive from this situation, it is a good idea to train with a friend, family member or colleague.
Tell them about your health and give them a copy of the action plan so they can take action and help you if symptoms show up.
11) Avoid lung irritants.
Since the disease affects the lungs, by inhaling certain substances you can trigger an attack and make breathing very difficult.
During exercise, the increase in heart rate and breathing can make you more sensitive to certain irritants.
These include dust, chemicals, atmospheric pollution, fumes and cigarette smoke.
Do not perform physical activity and avoid being particularly dynamic if you know that there are some of these irritants nearby; stay indoors or choose another place to work out.
12) Find a way to keep yourself active when using the oxygen tank.
It often happens that patients suffering from this lung disease need it to breathe better. You must work closely with your doctor to find the regulator most suited to your needs and identify how to stay active even during use.
Although these cylinders are often rather bulky, it does not mean that you can not comply with an exercise routine; some are great and can make things difficult; however, other models weigh only 2 or 3 pounds and are more manageable.
You can choose the biggest bottle to use at home and the small and portable one when you want to exercise or go outdoors.
Make sure that the dispenser is more easily transportable; even if it’s big, get a trolley, a backpack or a bag to put it in; in this way, it becomes much easier to take it with you.
Also, consider the connection tube with the device; use a shorter one when you have to go out and move; the longer ones may be in trouble or get caught in objects.
13) Stop smoking.
It is the single most important intervention to be done especially in the early stage of the disease. As soon as you stop, lung function begins to improve and progressive lung degradation slows down.
14) Prevent infections.
It is recommended to undergo the annual preventive flu vaccine; immediately contact your doctor as soon as you know you have been exposed to the virus.
15) Eliminates environmental irritants.
If you live in a highly polluted industrial city, limit or avoid physical activity altogether when the air quality is bad. You can search the ARPA website of your region or other meteorological sites to know the air conditions and know if they are particularly bad.
16) Do not take drugs that suppress the ability to cough.
Antihistamines, antitussives, sedatives, tranquillizers, beta-blockers and narcotics all have negative effects on breathing and on the ability to clear the airways; as a result, the symptoms of COPD may worsen. Ask the doctor which ones you should avoid and if there are any medicines or alternative treatments you can consider.
17) Go to the doctor regularly.
Given that COPD is a progressive disease, it is important to undergo constant monitoring visits; the doctor can help you manage the disease and provide you with a guide to keep you active.
The chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is usually treated with one or more drugs; ask the ones best suited to your situation and how to properly hire them.
Facts also indicate which you can take and how you should take them in case of an attack or difficulty breathing.
If you want to be physically active or become more active, ask for advice from your doctor; let us suggest safe activities for you, their level of intensity and the duration of the training sessions.
18) Be constant in taking medication.
When suffering from this disease, it is essential not to just take the drugs, but also to take them regularly every day; It is important that you use the inhaler before training, as a preventive measure.
It is possible to take medicines for both oral and inhalation; both forms reduce inflammation in the lungs so that you can breathe easier.
Many COPD drugs only work in the short term (four to six hours); this means that you have to hire them at least once, but also up to two or three a day.
Even on days when you feel particularly good, do not suffer from breathlessness or difficulty breathing, you should still follow the therapy to prevent the symptoms and keep the inflammation level low.
19) Prepare an action plan.
Many doctors advise COPD patients to have one at their fingertips; work with your doctor to create a personalized one.
This plan developed by you and your doctor provides instructions on what to do and what not to do when you show symptoms.
It is also a daily reminder of drugs and scheduling.
It should also list the symptoms as well as the medicines to be taken and the correct dosage.
For example, if you start having breathlessness and coughing, you need to know which one is best suited.
The plan must also take into account the severity of the disturbances: when should the ambulance be called? Can you call 118 when I’m moderated or just serious?
20) Keep your weight under control.
It is important to maintain a weight in the norm; consult your doctor to define the ideal one and know how many calories you need to take daily. If you need to lose weight, reduce the daily intake of 500 calories, which allows you to lose 0.5-1 kg per week.
However, one in three COPD patients is underweight and may have a lot of difficulties gaining weight.
21) Join a support group.
This disease does not only affect the lungs; many patients also face depression and anxiety. The fear of not being able to breathe well, of manifesting uncontrollable symptoms and not being able to maintain a social and active life can also influence emotional health.
If you have been diagnosed with this condition and you realize you are depressed or downcast, you should consider joining a support group.
Talking about the disease and how it affects life can be extremely helpful, especially if others have lived your own situation.
In addition, other sufferers can give you advice, suggestions and ideas to learn how to manage it better.
21) Contact a therapist.
If you have to fight every day with depression or anxiety associated with the disorder, you can find some relief by going to a psychologist regularly.
Work with your doctor and stay in touch with a behavioural therapist; both can help you develop self-confidence and prepare an action plan to learn how to manage the disease.
If you feel extremely anxious at the idea of some attack, talk to your doctor to find the best symptoms management techniques.
Always keep your action plan, emergency medicines, and a support system at hand to alleviate the state of anxiety.
22) Learn about the pathology.
The moment you are diagnosed, you may feel overwhelmed and confused; informing you as much as possible, you can feel safer, manage the disease and reduce anxiety.
When the doctor prescribes you the medications, ask him several questions; ask him how they work, what are the potential side effects, how long they take their action and show them all the other doubts you have.
Take some time to inform yourself about COPD: how it affects the body, the different factors that trigger it and how to manage it by making changes in lifestyle.