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4 Types of Exercises for COPD

These four types of exercises can be helpful even if you do not suffer with COPD. Try each exercise without exertion and Relax. Before starting these programs, consult with your health care provider.

Stretching exercises lengthen your muscles, increasing your flexibility. Stretching can also help prepare your muscles for other types of exercise, decreasing your chance of injury. It is an important part of the program.


Aerobic exercises use large muscle groups to move at a steady, rhythmic pace. This type of exercise works your heart and lungs, improving their endurance by working your respiratory muscles. This helps your body use oxygen more efficiently and, with time, can improve your breathing. Walking and using a stationary bike are two good choices of aerobic exercise if you have COPD.
Strengthening exercises involve tightening muscles repeatedly to the point of fatigue. When you do this for the upper body, it can help increase the strength of your breathing muscles.
Breathing exercises for COPD help you strengthen breathing muscles, get more oxygen, and breathe with less effort. Here are two examples of breathing exercises you can begin doing for five to 10 minutes, three to four times a day.
Pursed lip breathing:

1. Relax your neck and shoulder muscles.
2. Breathe in for two seconds through your nose, keeping your mouth closed.
3. Breathe out for four seconds through pursed lips. If this is too long for you, simply breathe out twice as long as you breathe in.

Use pursed-lip breathing while exercising. If you experience shortness of breath, first try slowing your rate of breathing and focus on breathing out through pursed lips.

Diaphragmatic breathing:

1. Lie on your back with knees bent. You can put a pillow under your knees for support.
2. Place one hand on your belly below your rib cage. Place the other hand on your chest.
3. Inhale deeply through your nose for a count of 3. (Your belly and lower ribs should rise, but your chest should remain still.)
4. Tighten your stomach muscles and exhale for a count of 6 through slightly puckered lips.

You may find that it helps to exercise at the same time each day; late morning or early afternoon may be a time when you have more energy. Here are some other basic guidelines for exercise when you have COPD:


- Set realistic goals.
- Gradually increase the number of minutes and days you exercise. A good goal is to exercise 20 to 40 minutes, two to four times a week.
- Start out slow. Warm up for a few minutes.
- Choose activities you enjoy, but vary them to help you stay motivated.
- Find an exercise partner.
- Keep a record of your exercise to help you stay on track.
- As you end your exercise, cool down by moving more slowly.