Skip to Content
Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > COPD: Using Exercise to Feel Better
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) often makes it difficult to breathe, which in turn may limit how
active you are and how much you exercise. But it is important to remain active
and exercise when you have COPD. Activity and exercise can:
Exercises for COPD can be done nearly anywhere. They are
often done as part of a pulmonary rehabilitation program.
consult with your doctor before starting an exercise program. Heart problems,
coronary artery disease (CAD) or
high blood pressure, are common in people who have COPD
and may limit exercise options. You may need medical supervision when you start
Exercises for COPD are
simple to do and take little time. They generally consist of aerobic exercises,
which increase oxygen flow to your muscles, and upper and lower body exercises,
which strengthen muscles.
Always consult with your doctor before
starting any exercise program. People with COPD may have heart problems, such
coronary artery disease (CAD) or
high blood pressure, that limit exercise options. You
may need medical supervision when you start your program.
become breathless while doing any of the exercises, rest in a position with
your shoulders supported (such as in a chair) and wait until you can breathe
To get started with an exercise program:
Aerobic exercises increase the
amount of oxygen that is delivered to your muscles, which allows them to work
longer. This helps you do more activities for longer periods of time.
Any exercise that raises your heart rate and keeps it up for an extended
period of time will improve your aerobic fitness. These exercises include
walking, using a treadmill, cycling or using a stationary bicycle, swimming,
and water aerobics.
Daily activities can also be aerobic: walking
to work or to run errands, sweeping (perhaps to fast-paced music), playing
actively with children, and walking your dog.
There is an easy
way to determine whether your heart rate is at the right level during aerobic
Talk to your doctor before starting aerobic exercise. He
or she will help you know how often and how long to exercise and how to set
your long-term exercise goals.
Knee extensions, leg lifts,
and step-ups develop lower body muscles and will help you move around more
easily for longer periods of time.
Talk to your doctor before
starting these exercises. He or she will help you know how often and how long
to exercise and how to set your long-term exercise goals.
Upper body exercises increase
strength in arm and shoulder muscles, which provide support to the rib cage and
can help improve breathing. They help in everyday tasks such as carrying
groceries and doing housework.
February 19, 2013
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Ken Y. Yoneda, MD - Pulmonology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Send Us Your Feedback
North Kansas City Hospital.