Helping Your Loved One with COPD Incorporate Exercise into His Day

December 11, 2015

Elder Care in New York NY

If your loved one has COPD, then he might be reluctant to add exercise to his routine. However, exercising is really important for building up his strength. If you start out gradually and keep some
of the following tips in mind, your loved one will be exercising regularly in no time.

General Guidelines

Start out slowly with any exercise routine. Make sure that his doctor agrees with a new exercise program before starting out. If your loved one hasn’t exercised in a long time, it’s a good idea to set your goals low to start. Let your loved one warm up for a few minutes before exercising. Choose activities that your loved one enjoys so that they’re more fun. Don’t forget that cooling down is just as important as warming up. It’s always a good idea for your loved one to have someone around when he works out, whether that’s you or senior care providers who understand COPD.

Exercises to Avoid

In general, walking and gentle stretching exercises are all good for people with COPD. There are some exercises that your loved one really shouldn’t engage in, though. Heavy lifting or overly strenuous activities, such as shoveling or raking, aren’t good choices. Exercising outdoors when it’s humid or very hot or cold is also a bad idea. Although walking is good, walking very fast or up steep inclines is not such a good idea.

When to Stop Exercising

Even gentle exercise can take a toll on your loved one if he’s not feeling great or having an exacerbation. Your loved one should stop exercising if he starts to feel dizzy or nauseated. Other signs that he needs to take a break include pain or pressure in his chest or severe shortness of breath. If these feelings worsen even if your loved one stops exercising, then he needs to see his doctor right away.

Breathing While Exercising

Helping your loved one to manage his breathing while he’s exercising is essential so that he doesn’t get into a situation where he can’t catch his breath. The best way to do this is through something called pursed-lip breathing. First your loved one needs to relax his neck and shoulders and breathe in through his nose for two seconds. He then breathes out through his mouth for four seconds, pursing his lips as he does so. This may take some practice to build up his stamina, so start out having him breathe out for twice as long as he breathes in.

As your loved one is able to exercise longer, he’ll find that it becomes easier to do.


Patricia Coffie, RN, BSN, MFA

Patricia Coffie, RN, BSN, MFA

Director of Client Services at Star One Home Care
Patricia Coffie, RN, BSN, MFA is Director of Client Services & Director of Phoenix Nurse Aide Training Center. Before assuming the post in 2012, Patricia was the Director or Nursing & Service Delivery at WRC for 3 years where she was the strategic lead for nursing and services to members.

Patricia started her nursing career 19 years ago at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and research institution in New York City, and since then has gained experience in Adult Intensive Care Units (ICU) , Pediatric Care (PICU ), Operating Room (OR) , mental health and community settings. She later moved into director of nursing roles, where she obtained extensive experience in leading and developing the nursing profession. She also pioneered good partnership working with other health care organizations, as well as social services, and the wider community.
Patricia Coffie, RN, BSN, MFA

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