Extreme exercise or increase the steroids?

Extreme exercise or increase the steroids?

My breathing has been not so good for the last week and I've been coughing up more sputum than usual so it was time to make a decision, do I start increasing my steroids or try and clear my lungs by exercise.

I've found in the past that if I take a walk up a long steady slope and really get myself puffing I can shift all the mucus from my lungs and my breathing can improve fairly rapidly afterwards. I've been walking regular but on level ground and its just not the same so while I was visiting my Dad today I took a walk up the lane and opened the throttle until I was breathing hard, I pushed myself for 20-30 minutes, there was a lot of coughing and spluttering but also my lungs were clearing from deep down. The gunk that I was shifting was clear as usual but you know its not doing you any good inside your lungs clogging everything up and blocking the small tubes that lead to the alveoli which in turn restricts any oxygen getting through to your blood stream, leaving you more breathless than usual.

Anyway the result of this extreme exercise route is much better breathing this evening without the use of extra medication which has got to be a good thing.

It seems the Malverns have saved me once again, hills it seems are our enemy but also our best friends at the same time as they make an easy stroll into a real work out.

I wouldn't recommend this to everyone but it does work for me, it ain't easy to keep walking up that hill but then who said life was easy anyway. All I know is I'm sat in my easy chair watching I'm a celebrity and breathing much easier than I was this morning so it was worth the effort.

Keep breathing easy Healthunlockeders by which ever way works for you whether its by medication or exercise.

The picture was taken on Monday at the end of my Severn walk, these dark evenings aren't all bad are they.


67 Replies

  • You've got some real stamina and determination Dall05 and I admire you for it.

    I'm not doing very well on the excercise front and it is worrying me. I can walk into town easily because it is down hill. But, walking uphill is agony with the pains in my legs/ knees and hips due to fibro/arthritis. I try to push on, but feel physically sick and drained with it and I'm sure it makes my breathlessness worse.

    On good days, I can dance my socks off but they are far and few between. I need some of your inner strength. Your such an inspiration Dall05, you really are. xx

  • Thanks casper, it sounds like you are struggling with the hills at the moment but that's not surprising with the extra burden of fibro/arthritis. I am fortunate to only have to put up with breathlessness and that horrible uncomfortable feeling which soon passes once at rest.

    I wish I could give you some of the inner strength stuff and help you get more of those good days so you could dance those socks off more often.

    Don't give up the walking though, maybe take it a little easier going back up that hill ok!

    Tony xx

  • Glad that the exercise worked for you Tony and you must be chuffed to have avoided increasing meds. Do you monitor your heart rate during this exertion and does it worry you if it goes very high ?

  • Strange you should mention heart rate, yes I do monitor myself sometimes and recently have noticed something a little odd with my heart rate when exercising and breathless. It sometimes stays around 60-70 bpm when I'm really puffing hard and my sats are in the low 70s on high oxygen. My fit to breath physio also noticed this so now my chest consultant is going top give me an echo-cardiogram and put me on his exercise bike whilst wired up to a few machines which could be fun eh'. I said to him maybe I'm just very fit these days for someone on the lung transplant list but he didn't seem to agree with this, I don't know why? :)

  • That does seem strange Tony but I believe a lot of top athletes have very low heart rates, so hopefully yours is due to regular exercise and being fit too.

    Here's hoping !!

  • Hi Argana, maybe my breathlessness is all in my mind and I'm really very very fit, Ha Ha. wouldn't that be something eh'

    I had the eco-cardiogram this evening at 6.20pm at Worcester hospital, they were having a late session which is very unusual but it worked well for me. Just the exercise bike to go and then we'll see what they have to say.

  • Fingers crossed for a good result Tony. I'm sure you'll break all the records when you get on that bike.

  • With all the pills I have to take, I'll be classed as a drugs cheat if I break any records. Anyway I'll give it my best and we'll see what the machines say, there's sure to be a few alarms going off once I start turning those pedals so I should have some fun with the technicians and their worried looking faces. :)

  • :) :) :)

  • Well done Tony and what a beautiful picture. x

  • Thanks coughalot, its easy to find these pics in such a beautiful area, every way you turn there's something worth snapping. xx

  • Well hero. The best bit of climbing up is sliding down. You're simply the best, better than all the rest. Hang on someone should make that into a song.

    Take care hero

    Dozy :) xxx

  • You hum it and I'll sing it DD, Your right though coming back down is so much more fun than struggling up them dam hills. I can turn my oxygen down or sometimes off when gravity is on my side which is such a good feeling once the hard work has been done. :)

    My computer keeps crashing which is driving me nuts but I'll sort it once I find me Birmingham screwdriver (Hammer) .

    Tony xxxx good to see your still up and about superwoman and keeping an eye on us. :) :) :)

  • I think the increased exercise is the way to go Tony

    I used to avoid hills & slopes...but for the past few years I have welcomed them as its so true, they force you to push yourself and get out of breath which is what I and you need

    Have you tried nebulising saline before you go on your walk?......I find if its very hard to get the stuff up from my lungs that nebbing before I exercise ..or do my breathing exercises really helps to get to the gunk at the bottom of the lungs

    Hopefully you won't have to struggle for too much longer and that you will soon get the call for your new lungs

    Lots of love Sohara

  • Hi Sohara, exercise does help me with keeping my lungs clear from the never ending mucus that just keeps coming and coming. :)

    It seems you think like me and look at hills and stairs as a good thing even though they do make us suffer just a little eh'

    I only ever used nebulisers when in hospital but they don't really help me that much. I used to use them mainly to keep my nose clear so I could use nasel specks instead of a face mask for my oxygen. For some reason when recovering from my initial close shave after first falling ill my nose would block solid and I mean solid. Luckily after about 6 months this stopped happening and my nose is always clear now. Whew! :)

    Yeh' wouldn't it be nice, New Lungs- New Life, bring it on I say. Thanks again!

    Tony xxxx

  • Hi Sohara, exercise does help me with keeping my lungs clear from the never ending mucus that just keeps coming and coming. :)

    It seems you think like me and look at hills and stairs as a good thing even though they do make us suffer just a little eh'

    I only ever used nebulisers when in hospital but they don't really help me that much. I used to use them mainly to keep my nose clear so I could use nasel specks instead of a face mask for my oxygen. For some reason when recovering from my initial close shave after first falling ill my nose would block solid and I mean solid. Luckily after about 6 months this stopped happening and my nose is always clear now. Whew! :)

    Yeh' wouldn't it be nice, New Lungs- New Life, bring it on I say. Thanks again!

    Tony xxxx

  • Well done Tony. I used to love the hills and winding lanes. When I discovered that I wasn't going to be walking anymore I deliberately moved to a place without them. Even after all these years of living in the flattest place in the country I still miss the hills. The nearest I get to one is the ramp outside of Morrisons. :-)

  • They just don't build their ramps big enough do they, maybe try a ramp into a multi story car park eh' that should get you puffing a bit. :)

    Sorry you can't get up hills and do the country lanes anymore Rib, I know I would really miss them if the time comes. For now though I'll keep pushing myself and snapping pics along the way before I come and join you in the place of no hills and lifts, where gravity is kinder to us eh' :)

  • I think my nearest multi story car park would be a 90 mile round trip so I will give that a miss. I will stick to looking at my holiday pictures. In fact I picked up a nice pictorial calendar for £4 that has some lovely hills and valleys. I am tempted to hang it now instead of waiting until January 1st. Rib

  • Hang it now Rib and let your imagination run wild. :) . I agree 90 miles is a bit to far to get some exercise Ha Ha.


  • Trouble is Tony that it is the type that one writes appointments on so as to remember when the Nurse or Physio is due or the car goes for service etc. Rib

  • Right, it sure beats trying to use the memory, that would make me a little unreliable for sure. Tony

  • You did well Tony, congrats, way to go. Nice pic too :)

  • Thanks 02, If I can avoid more steroids through exercise then I will, steroids do work well for me but I've been on a maintenance dose for 4 years now so I do try and keep them to a minimum. I'm pretty sure if I gave them up all together I wouldn't be around for to long, I did manage to get as low as 6 mg daily for a while but I'm now back to 11mg due to my breathing worsening.

    It seems as though exercise has to be used along side the pills for best results, each one playing a part in keeping us going eh'

    Tony x

  • Stunning photo xx and you've inspired me to exercise more I've practically stopped after last bout of infection. Time to get my walking boots back on thanks for sharing x

  • Tracey, 'those boots are made for walking' :) . The best way to clear out that last bit of infection is to exercise it out along side your meds OK!. Well done x

  • Beautiful photograph of dusk - my regular walk takes me up hill and down and am sure that is helping me; now seven months and counting of being well - the longest for several years! See how you inspire people!


  • Thanks Pentreath, great to see that exercise works for you too, it helps to make you stronger to fight those infections off don't it and you can have some fun along the way as well. :)

    As usual the photo opportunity came unexpectedly, I had just finished the Severn walk and was loading the oxygen into the car when I looked down the river to see they had turned the lights on, SNAP! and got ya. :)

  • You have enormous will power and stamina! I wish I could get my husband to take on board your attitude to excercise! I on the other hand, think you are doing exactly the right thing - exercise is key and to get your lungs clear. Long may you continue! xxx PS the dark nights are not bad at all when you can get images like this one

  • Thanks TAD, It is a shame your hubby won't do some exercise as I have found it really does help. If I take a break then I soon begin to deteriorate so it proves that keeping those lungs as clear as possible can lead to better breathing and a better life not only for me but everyone around me.

    I timed it right when finishing my river walk didn't I, someone switched the lights on so SNAP I captured the scene which looked even better in real time.

    Tony xxxx

  • Inspiring as always, well done. and the photo is great.

  • Another walk another photo eh' emmo, Glad you enjoyed the post and pic. :)

  • An inspiration as always x

  • Thanks Shirleyj, I do my best to get people out and moving the best they can. xx

  • Thank you for that,yes I've discovered that if I do my new battery neb a nd atomiser I also have relief from struggling to breath, years of muck ,I was so surprised that the medical do not think of that, always want to put a plaster on things (so to speak). And give you inhalors that have no effect,as you can't breath to get the medicine,,ehhhhhh,annoyed.2yrs with the wrong inhalor that does not reach me what a waste,no wonder I couldn't breath ,sometimes it takes a bit of common sense rather than a label ,copd. There is just not enough people trained in respirortary .common sense prevails.so I am getting myself better,and listening to my body,.

  • Well done Colours, its amazing what you can find out with a little experimenting. The doc's are mainly right but there's no doubt you can help yourself a lot by finding what works for you.

    Keep listening to your body and the docs and hopefully you'll keep getting better and better with some fine tuning and adjustments. :) . Common sense is in very short supply all around I find so using your own can't be a bad thing eh'

    Tony :)

  • Well done Tony. I live east of Swansea city centre. When I moved here or should I say emigrated here(from England) I said to myself that I would not buy a house on a hill. What did I do? I bought a house on the steepest inhabited hill in the UK. If you know your gradients the average on my hill is just over 1 in 5 but at various points on the hill it is just over 1 in 3. I don't particularly get out of breath but my calf muscles don't like it. My youngest son kept telling me I was wheezing so I went to see my GP who told me I had COPD. I hadn't a clue what it was and when I asked him he said it was emphysema. I had smoked as a young soldier but had not smoked for more than forty years. Whilst in the army and when I was invalided out(thats another story) I did cross country running and long distance road running. Anyway inhalers were issued but eventually I have landed up with Seritide 125 two puffs a day. Sometimes I don't use it for a few days and I'm ok. The last time I blew into the cardboard pipe the nurse told me the reading was better that when the doctor gave me the initial diagnosis, my lung capacity was about 83+ %. What does this mean? I will have to go back and see my GP and ask a few questions. One question will be is " Have I got COPD". Reading the postings on this site I do sympathise with everyone who has to live with this awful disease and how you show such fortitude in dealing with it. I will let everyone know what happens after I see my GP. Best wishes Gerry

  • It sounds like you may have improved some so maybe living on that very steep hill has done you some good Gerry. I live near a similar hill to yours ( The old wyche rd) and I can walk up it on maximum oxygen and a lot of stops. I do it to test myself and prove that I'm not getting any worse + there's a nice pub at the top called the Wyche Inn which is a great place to sit and recover. :)

    My lung capacity is around 60% but my gas exchange is around 25-30% of predicted for my age hence the need for a little oxygen support.

    Thanks Gerry and yes Its best to ask lots of questions and find out as much as you can about your particular lung problem. The more you know the more help you will get is what I have found.


  • Hi Tony. Firstly well done!! I am suffering lots of stubborn mucus and I am currently on Pulmonary Rehab doing exercises and practising the Autogenec Drainage breathing both without much success. So I visited my GP yesterday who simply upped the steroids again!! I will try anything because it keeps me awake and I am exhausted and the resulting congestion further reduces my breathing making the exercise more difficult.

    Has anyone else suggestions to rid us of this mucus please!

  • hallentine47, the autogenic drainage should work. I also used a flutter which is like a whistle but it makes no noise. The metal ball in it, makes your whole lungs shake and the mucus comes up. No forcing though, ig not you will injure your muscles, and that is painful. Don't worry too much if nothing comes up. When you heal, there won't be annything at all. Hope you heal soon.

  • Hi helingmic. Thanks fir your input. What is a flutter please? Where can I get one to try?

  • hallentine, First of all, don't buy it because you can ask your GP and your consultant to provide one.

    What is it? It's like a pipe with a "whistle" in it. In fct, there's a little ball inside which vibrates when you blow out. This vibration goes further into your lungs and shifts the mucus. It's easy to use, easy to dismantle to wash it. Just a piece of advice, I get on with it alright, but some people find it difficult to get the mucus out, especially if's thick.

    There's a medicine, carboceistine, that you can be prescribed with makes the mucus more fluid. Also Mycodyne. You need to speak with your GP to say that you nearly choke on your mucus and it doesn't come out, then you feel so short of breath. That's what I would say to your GP ,so he/she prescribes something to make the mucus more fluid and easier to cough up. Please don't stay in your corner and say nothing to doc. You have to take steps so you can improve. I hope you find a solution promptly.

  • Thank you helingmic I wiill ask when next with my GP. I am on Mycodyne and use the steaming water bowl plus Olbas Oil with towel over my head every night.It all helps move the stuff but seems to go on forever during the night. I feel this ought to have been offered to me by now. Thanks again.

  • You could put extra cushions to elevate the head, arrange them to form a slanting pattern that’s comfortable for you. You could ask you GP to ask the physiotherapist to prescribe (give you) a frame which will automatically raise the back and head. I use this with 3 cushions very successfully. In this way, I don’t cough during the night.

    In the morning, I do the ACTB (Active cycle of breathing technique)

    I also bend and clap my back and front to bring the mucus up (sometimes successful). I rinse my nose and mouth with salted water. I do the Chinese exercises called, 8 pieces of broacade.

    Explanation form here:


    You Tube video here:

    This has definitely helped me coughing up. It has over 6 months improved my energy, positiveness and suppleness. These exercises have to be performed with gentleness, not forcing and doing less repeat at the start, so your body gets accustomed to the stretches

    I hope this helps.

  • Thank you again and for so much to think about. I am taking it on board. Tried a third pillow last night and there was an improvement.

  • You might consider asking your GP to refer you to the Pulmonary Team physiotherapist to get some expert advice on good breathing etc; and on having a free frame for your bed, because that helps tremendously. Last March, with pneumonia in hospital, I was crouching on the bed. At midnight (!), a nurse came in and said, come on , no slouching like that, you won't be able to breathe properly like this, sit up and she pushed a button to put the head of the bed almost on a right angle. That should do it! Later, I told the physio who came to check on me that I didn't have a bed like this one; so she brought a frame to me. One screw came off, so the next day I got a brand new frame! I've adapted well. But U've added cushions for comfort. Hope this help solving your problem.

  • Referring to your earlier mention if the 'Flutter Device' I have actually acquired one. The GP at first showed reluctance to prescribe one but I had already checked with my pharmacy that it was available on NHS and so got my prescription! Collected it today and yes it needs practice but I have already had partial success. Its yet another tool in the box. More COPD sufferers ought to know bout this device,

  • I'm so pleased for you. It adds that little bit to the huffing! Use it gently at the start, if not you will tear your muscles. You must accustom them little by little, blow in it 2 or 3 times at first. Then gradually build it up. I didn't, I did the ten times they advise on the instructions. I got such a bad muscle pain!. Be cautious

  • Regular exercise does work but you do have to get yourself puffing for around 20-30 minutes most days. If you are able to do this then you will find improvements and hopefully improve your sleeping as well which in turn will help you exercise more. Good luck hallentine. :)


  • Thanks for the advice. Not always able to do 20-30 mins but as much as I am able.

  • We all have different levels so as you say do what your able to do, getting the pacing right is important which will enable you to keep going for longer. Start slow and get slower is what I tend to do. Ha Ha.

  • I ought to be able to keep then!! See you on the race track.

  • looks pretty darn good to me Tony and I know what you mean about excersizing - If I don't walk one day I notice it in my breathing :)

  • We have to keep it up don't we. :) .

  • we sure do :)

  • Nice picture Tony, pleased your breathing has moved up a notch, some days are hard. better to find a cure improvement the natural way, all these steroids are not good for the bones mate. regards Malk

  • I agree malk, I take 11mg of prednisolone, 'daily maintenance' dose as it is so I don't want anymore unnecessarily. If exercise does the same then that's the best way to go eh'. :) .

    They can transplant my lungs but they might be struggling to do the same with me bones. Ha Ha.

  • Well done I'm with you on the steroids I went swimming and I just felt as if no air was getting to my lungs and you feel like your going to pass out

  • Thanks onamission, I was never any good at swimming, I could do a length at most pools but struggled all the way. Now I was great underwater but that had its limitations as you can imagine. :) .

    I'm too afraid to even try now as the heat and fumes inside an indoor pool might make things pretty difficult as it did for you. I'd like to give it a try someday but it might be a little scary for anyone watching and I may keep the life guards very busy too. :) .


  • Tony they use a different chemical now to clean the water so its not as bad. When I go to the pool I sometimes just go up the deep end and tread water it gets your hart rate going and that's what we should be doing. Because of my back problems I find it imposable to exercise on land I walk so slow I don't get any benefit from it, dig out that man kinie and give it a go

  • I'm not sure it would be fair on the poor people of Malvern if I were to do that and treading water was impossible even when I was a fit tennis player and cyclist. :)

    Good to know about the better chemicals though, that chlorine could be a bit powerful sometimes.

    It sounds as though its a great way to exercise if you have back problems so keep it up onamission and maybe I'll give it a go sometime as there's a pool about a mile from me.

  • Oh what a beautiful photo, Tony. You could look at the forum "from couch to 5 K". type it in the search. Also see the NHS website and type this too.

    I was in the same position last week, Someone gave me their cold. I took Vicks First Defence nasal spray, rinsed my mouth and nose with salted water. But yesterday the sputum changed colour, so I started my AB Clarithromycin to shift it.

    Is your sputum alright? Watch if it changes colour. If it does take some AB. Hope you get better. Good walk on the Malvern.

  • Hi helingmic, My sputum has always stayed clear but it tends to increase when an infection comes along. When they do sputum sample tests they rarely find anything but steroids do work for me as they reduce any inflammation in the lungs which quickly helps with my breathing.

    My problem is keeping the steroids down to a minimum so keeping my lungs clear with exercise helps me also and is better for me long term.

    I had another good walk yesterday along the Severn river bank, saw the cormorants again fishing as usual and there were some Gold finches and a Great spotted woodpecker to entertain me also.

    Its been pretty cold out today so I've had a day catching up on the computer with some light exercise to keep me warm. I loaded the bird table earlier so the birds will have a better chance of surviving tonight, it must be tough for them this time of year.


  • Tony, I'm in my second week infection. The nurse advised me that we need a second week AB. I might take some steroid at the end of the antibiotics to clear whatever I can. You do wonderful walks.

    I'm afraid mine is "from couch to 5K" at the gym on the static bike. Strangely, I don't find this boring at all. I amaze myself when I've ridden 30 minutes! Then I go on to the other equipment to complete my hour. Fantastic - even though I have this infection. I think the pumping of blood with the legs must help clearing my chest. A body is a marvellous thing. Thanks Tony.

  • Excellent & food for thought re the clearance of mucus. Beautiful picture so relaxing. I love to walk but seldom push myself to get out of breath in case I have a coughing fit so embarrassing if folk are around.

    Thank you again


  • That's the problem when you really push yourself to clear your lungs, its difficult when there's a lot of people around. I'm lucky living in a fairly quiet area where my coughing goes unnoticed hopefully. :)

    Look after yourself Blue xx

  • hi tony, firstly, let me say what a wonderful photo. and that i admire your determination, positiveness and your humour.

    strangely enough i have found myself i'm much the same position re. the breathing and excess sputum during the past few weeks.especially the last few days.

    i have not permitted myself to take my emergency steroids, or antibiotics, but i am monitoring myself very carefully,

    my sputum is reasonably clear, [but plentiful lol] apart from the slightly discoloured yuk!! first thing in the morning.

    i do find it difficult to exercise, due to my ankylosing spondylitis. and the copd,

    but exercise i do !! and this does as you say , help clear the lungs and you feel all the better for it,in clearing the mucus. it seems to me far better without the steroids, if this is at all possible


    but my exercise of late has left me so much out of breath, i cant talk for some time [i have learned that to exercise until your out of breath, but able to speak ] i have also felt like"near" passing out,,

    these are much the same exercises as i have been doing just a few weeks ago,whenever im able, and have managed fine,, well!! fine as can be lol.

    what is bothering me, is, my exercise tolerance seems to be lessening,the last few weeks, i don't know whether it is the change in seasons,i,e. the changeable weather up here in bonnie scotland. or my ank .spond. is becoming worse [my spine is fused] or my lung function is worse ,,, or [dare i say it] an infection coming on. i dont think its an infection as my sputum is clear after the morning.

    but for the moment tony, i,ll do much as you say in your post , i.e exercise until i'm out of breath, but can still breath freely,, but at the moment its not very much,,

    i am the same as you tony, with the portable oxygen cylinders on a back pack,,,seems to get heavier week by week :)

    thanks for an interesting post and thread ..may you keep enjoying the good old malverns, beautiful fresh air there ok,,


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