Question about exercise: Hi and very... - British Lung Foun...

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Question about exercise

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Hi and very kind wishes to everybody. I'm new here, and glad I found you!

I was diagnosed with COPD two years ago, although looking back, I've had it for much longer.

I was about to shut down my life, but reading your posts gives me new hope!

I know that exercise is the single most important thing, and I expect it to be hard, but my question is how hard should it be?

I use an exercise bike and a treadmill, and after 10 minutes on either, I feel like death, gasping for breath and reaching for the Ventolin inhaler. I have to brace myself for the ordeal of walking upstairs, and going to the supermarket is a nightmare which I often avoid. Even short walks are extremely challenging.

As a result, I exercise a lot less than I know I should, but I'm worried that I might do more damage if I push too hard.

I had to stop pulmonary rehab because I was so bad at it!

Any advice very gratefully received.

Kind wishes


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Have a look at following.

Exercising with a lung condition is exercise tolerance, which is gauged by you level of breathlessness .

2/5 on the modified Borg scale is enough.

at this level you should still be able to say sentence with one or two breaks.

If you set a time for each exercise, 30 seconds each then build up to 2 minutes per exercise doing this three time a week for 20/30 minutes per session I'll give you the benefit you need.

Although you have to push yourself let you breathlessness control you.

If you use machines the same applies, aim for two minutes then rest, you are doing exercise tolerance not exercise activity


Im sure pulmonary rehab would have told you if you were doing too much.....they always told us being breathless is ok

Did you stay there long enough to learn all the breathing exercises for when your exercising or out of breath.

Keeping clear from smoking or anything else that can be bad for us is just as important,, ie dust, some pets, paint , strong smells etc


I would ask for another PR it is very scary but you just do what you can, it is really hard at first but it does get better. Do you use oxygen, or was you advised to use it while exercising. Everyone has given you great advice, starting with very short bursts will help you.

Good luck

Kim xxxxx


Hi there...just to say welcome to our community here - you'll find support and friendship with others who know pretty much how you're feeling.

I can relate very well to your description of breathlessness during exercise. I also had to drop out of pulmonary rehab after finding it intolerable and for much of the time at home just a few steps from kitchen to front door can hit me like a ton of bricks.

This degree of breathlessness almost has me in a collapsed state, the blood pounding hard inside my head and me about to wet myself. It then takes me something like 10 mins before I can draw enough breath to even begin to breathe anything like 'normal' by which time I feel drained and unwell. Sounds familiar?

Well, blow that! After numerous attempts at doing any of the suggested exercises over a long period of time and fracturing my spine I've all but chucked in the towel.

To avoid the isolation of sitting alone at home I bought a small buggy so I can still enjoy

the outdoors. And I settled for 'armchair exercises' and still do a little bit of walking.

None of this really helps you but only to let you know that you're not alone.

Best wishes...Lovelight

hi im on pulmonary rehab at the moment you just do what you can, its about learning how much is safe to do, its the exercise bike I struggle with I just need look at it and get breathless lol.


You feeling any better since being off nicotene?

πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜€ xx

hi ruby I don't notice much difference without fags but early days.



rf4c. I too would like to know. I'm in midst exacerbation right now and my exercise ability is close to zero. As a rule I'm a walker, due to a spinal condition. My neurosurgeon insists walking is the best therapy for many conditions, so I walked.

I would dearly love to get out and walk at the moment but the SOB is so acute it's frightening. I'm hoping when this exacerbation has passed I can get back to walking.

I too want to know how hard it should be and should we persist when the SOB leaves us gasping. Not exercising is not helping, neither is the inability to exercise.

The supermarket is definitely a challenge. I huffed and puffed my way through a very large supermarket yesterday and hope not to have to repeat the performance for a couple of weeks.

All the best to you.

Hi Jim

welcome to the site. Theres some pretty amazing people on here. You don't say what stage copd you have. One thing I know is the less you do, the less you'll be able to do. Ever hear the saying " use it or lose it". I think that applies to everyone. Another thought is Baby steps. Each day do a little more. You took 10 steps yesterday, take 12 today.

I can't even tell you how much I've learned from the people on here. You will be saying the same thing yourself.

Rubyxx 😊 😊

Hi Jim I'm the same even going to the other room makes me short of breath.

I now sing every day for at least an hour and purchased a Tenor Sax I play that(learning)

and after 8 months i was 8% better on my last test. try singing and holding the notes it does work on the lungs and brain to make you feel better. I hope you're feeling a bit better soon. Enjoy life and be happy Tom

Hi everybody!

Wow! what a fantastic bunch of people you are.

I can't begin to thank you all enough.

Regardless of how bad I might be, the one thing I've learned from all your posts

is that giving up is not an option!

" use it or lose it" definitely makes sense.

The hospital regards me as about mid stage COPD.

I don't use oxygen.

My meds are:

Ventolin Nebuliser twice daily.

Symbicort Inhaler twice daily.

Spiriva inhaler once daily and

Ventolin bronchodilator as needed.

I've also added NAC to the mix with doctors approval. (Mixed results!)

I also use a walking stick, as I just reach down place my hands on my knees to support

myself, (very embarassing!)

Could I briefly tell you my history, not just for my benefit, but in case there is a

clue in there that might help other people.

I was a smoker all my life, but to add to my troubles, I worked 12 hours a day for about

5 years around petrol fumes.

I was always so active that people used to say I must have a clone to do everything I did!

I know the COPD had taken hold about 1999/2000 as I was mildly breathess a lot of the time, but nothing worrying.

To illustrate my health at the time, I was running a small business, caring for my wife suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis, doing the household shopping and cleaning, cooking the meals, coping with 4 moody teenagers and commuting 250 miles one weekend a month studying for a degree. (And loving it!)

In August 2007 I was going through a period of massive stress in my life. One night I was admitted to A&E with a ruptured gall bladder and came close to dying. I was treated in hospital and at home with huge amounts of drugs to protect me from the toxins that were released. When I was strong enough I had surgery in December 2007 and from the day I stepped from the bed, I was suffering with COPD as severe as it is today.

The weird thing is that only 7 months before, I'd been in London and one evening went for a brisk walk around the entire perimeter of Hyde Park! After the surgery I couldn't walk 20 yards!

Since the surgery I've had the added complication that there is something wrong in my intestinal system. I regularly suffer constipation, and even the stronget laxitives sometimes don't work. This causes me terrible breathing problems.

In addition, I can't go too far from home for too long without needing to urinate and if I can't find a toilet, I almost suffocate to death!

I asked the doctor several times on my hospital checkups, but they don't want to know. They deal with respiratory not gastro issues!

I'm now trying to build up some money to see a consultant privately.

I'm not sure if it's the gastro probelms or the COPD, but I find diet is hugely important. Eating some foods leaves me gasping, while others actually help!

Anyway friends, I've just looked at how much I've written!

Sorry to go on for so long!

Please accept my sincere thanks for all your help.

I'm sure I'll be back with more questions before too long, there's so much I'd like to know!

in reply to rf4c

Just a small thought on the diet front. I've been gluten free for a while (other health problems) and over the same period my breathing has improved. No idea if the two are related, or if it is just that I am eating healthier or something else.

Hi Jim just wanted to welcome you aboard with such a friendly helpful crew. You have been given sound advice, which i can't really add to. Take care xx

Jim, you must be feeling quite depressed at the moment, take heart , it changes all the time.... Don,t give up. Personally I find getting out for a short walks helps, I need the : fresh air : You do find that life changes dramatically so try and find hobbies that will occupy your mind, if you doo overdo things you will suffer for it the next day...... but we all do it. Take care and God Bless. πŸ˜‹ πŸ˜‹

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