Exercise for COPD (including emphysema, chronic bronchitis and bronchiectasis)

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder) is an umbrella term for a number of chronic lung conditions that obstruct the normal flow of air through the respiratory system. These include chronic bronchitis, emphysema, bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis and chronic asthma. Common symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath, chronic cough and excessive sputum production. COPD is often associated with other significant effects on the body such as loss of muscle mass and strength (sarcopaenia), reduced physical fitness and reduced bone mineral density (osteopaenia and osteoporosis).

What are the benefits of exercise in patients with COPD?

The benefits of exercise in patients with COPD are well established and occur mainly through adaptations in muscles and the cardiovascular system, which in turn reduce stress on the lungs. The benefits include:
• Reduced shortness of breath and fatigue
• Increased aerobic/cardiovascular fitness
• Increased tolerance of physical activity
• Increased muscle size and strength
• Increased pulmonary minute ventilation (the amount of air a person’s lungs can process in 1 minute)
• Increased bone strength
• Improved mental wellbeing

Is exercise safe if I have COPD?

For most people living with COPD, exercise is a safe and effective form or treatment. Some specific considerations must be acknowledged in patients with COPD and it is recommended that all patients with COPD consult with an exercise physiologist prior to commencing an exercise program. An exercise physiologist will be able to perform exercise testing to assess your current capacity for physical activity and provide specific exercise prescriptions for you as an individual.

What type of exercise is best for patients with COPD?

In general, an exercise program consisting of both aerobic and resistance exercise achieves the greatest outcomes in patients with COPD. The specific prescription of exercise is based on the findings of an assessment performed by an exercise physiologist and is individual to each patient. General exercise recommendations include:
• 20-60 minutes of aerobic exercise most days per week, with exercise intensities based on dyspnoea scales (measures of shortness of breath) and measurements of oxygen saturation in the blood.
• 20-30 minutes of resistance training (strength exercise) with weights, resistance bands or bodyweight on at least two days per week.

Our Exercise Physiologists at Glebe Physio are professionals who are trained in the safe and effective prescription of exercise for people with conditions such as COPD.

At Glebe Physio, we offer one-on-one appointments to individually assess your situation and tailor an exercise program for you, as well as fully supervised classes for those who enjoy exercising in a group environment.

If you would like to ask a question about our services or anything else, visit our Contact Us page to get in touch.

If you are ready to make an appointment, visit our make a booking page and get started today.

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For more, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.

If you would like to ask a question about our services or anything else, visit our Contact Us page to get in touch.

If you are ready to make an appointment, visit our make a booking page and let us help you with your fitness or recovery.

Please note that the information we provide on web pages like this one are for general information and educational purposes. We recommend speaking to a qualified physiotherapist or exercise physiologist to assess your individual situation.
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Glebe Physio

02 9168 5992

173 Glebe Point Road, Glebe, NSW 2037

Mon - Wed — 8:00am - 7:00pm
Thurs — 10:00am - 7:00pm
Fri — 8:00am - 5:00pm
Saturday — 9:00am - 1:00pm
Sunday — Closed