Let's face it, struggling to breathe sucks. Shortness of breath is the most common and uncomfortable symptom of chronic (long-term) lung diseases. Living with a health condition like chronic severe asthma, chronic bronchitis, interstitial lung disease and emphysema can be difficult at times, but having an effective management plan, taking your medications as prescribed and exercising on a regular basis can help you get more out of life.
Regular exercise is one of the most effective treatments for chronic lung conditions. It can dramatically improve the way you feel and help with managing symptoms of these conditions.
If you have a long term lung condition, the thought of becoming out of breath quickly can be scary and you may not feel motivated to exercise. It can be tempting to avoid exercise because you think it will make you breathless, but if you do less activity you become less fit and daily activities will become even harder.
Before starting an exercise programme, it is important to check in with your Doctor or nurse first to asses how stable your condition is. If you need help and guidance, a clinical exercise physiologist or physiotherapist will be able to give you exercises that are safe you to complete and will provide you benefit.
All exercise programmes must be built up over time to allow the body to adapt. It's important that you exercise at your own pace. If you reach a stage where you are too breathless to talk, then slow down the pace or if necessary take a short pause. Intermittent exercises can also help you to deal with the shortness of breath. In this case you alternate brief exercise, lasting 1–2 minutes, with 1-2 minutes of rest (or slower exercise). This is called ‘interval training’.
The more you do overtime, the more you will be able to do!
Here's a quick summary of the benefits of exercise for chronic lung diseases.