Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, commonly referred to as COPD, is used to categorize diseases that make it difficult for a person to breathe. Those diagnosed with a COPD will find that their condition grows worse over time, making exercise and daily function very difficult. Common symptoms associated with COPD include:
These symptoms can flare up due to COPD exacerbation, which are commonly caused by some form of bacteria or virus affecting the respiratory system, like a lung infection. Some people are more susceptible to COPD exacerbation and suffer from a faster disease progression, mainly due to declining health and a weakened immune system. This makes breathing exercises and exercise, in general, important for those living with COPD.
Healthy, functioning airways in the lungs are elastic, meaning they will always return to their original shape after being stretched when filled with air. The more elastic these airways are, the more efficient they are at allowing air to pass quickly. This is important for proper breathing, especially during times when they body requires more oxygen, like after physical activity or exercising. A person suffering from COPD will experience breathing problems because the disease causes the airways to lose their elasticity. This means that the walls no longer return to their original shape, and can even become swollen. The increase in mucus production adds to breathing complications, making it more difficult for air to pass through the lungs.
The two most common forms of COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema:
The most common cause of a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is smoking, therefore, one of the first lifestyle changes a person diagnosed with COPD needs to do is quit smoking, immediately. The next step would be to make improvements to one's health through exercising, which would extend lung function by slowing the progressive disease. However, those diagnosed with COPD will find exercise to be more difficult than ever before. Breathing complications and blocked airways can limit a person to the amount of exercise he or she is capable of performing. Sudden shortness of breath after only a few minutes of exercise can also leave a person feeling dejected, giving up on any form of physical activity all-together.
Those diagnosed with COPD may find the use of special breathing exercises to be helpful for physical activity and regular, daily function. These exercises were designed to help strengthen the respiratory muscles while minimizing the amount of energy required for normal breathing. While it is advised to seek guidance and aid from a respiratory therapist, a person diagnosed with COPD can try these breathing exercises at home to improve his or her condition: