British Lung Foundation
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Is exercise always beneficial??

Hello there. After a lazy holiday away and a few housebound rainy days lately, I have come to the startling conclusion that my brisk daily dog walks (2 x 1 hours) are actually making my chest very much worse.

My diagnosis is Lupus/UCTD with resp muscle weakness & small Airways Disease. I'm 50, slim & I love being out and about but there is no doubt that the less I do, the less aggravation, coughing and subsequent respiratory fatigue I get.

Should I be doing less exercise? Does anyone else here find this? I find walking and fresh air so mentally therapeutic.

Thanks for reading. Clare x

11 Replies


Exercise is beneficial, but it needs to be variable not just walking.

Can or have you been referred to a pulmonary rehablitation course, one hour exercise one hour education.

There are plenty of home exercises you can do to supplement you walking, which can be reduced if causing problems


Thank you Stone. My GP tried to get PR for me a few years ago but it was declined - probably because I drive myself quite hard to keep active and also because my basic spirometry etc is not as bad as others. I tried to source it privately too but it's not available according to the resp physio. Air trapping is a problem for me.

What sort of home exercises are you referring to? Upper body etc?


Hi why not cut down a bit to 2 half hour walks instead and see how you go?

I know it is very difficult to get access to PR in some areas, but I was very lucky and got sent straightaway even though I am only mild copd.

Try asking your copd nurse instead. S/he can also refer you and I have often found they are more helpful than doctors.


Thank you Hidden. Unfortunately I don't qualify for a COPD/asthma nurse - she won't even do my peak flow because I don't fit into the required 'box' and considered too complicated! I will speak to my consultant about it but I'm not very hopeful.

To cut down on the walking is a sensible suggestion - I had assumed that the more I did, the better I would be but it doesn't seem to be the case.

Many thanks x


Try YouTube and search for pulmonary exercises but check with your GP that you are safe doing these.

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Ok good luck.

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Hi Clare ... after my PR class I was referred on to my local gym to attend what's called a copd circuit and an active lifestyle membership....where I go is ppl of all ages shapes sizes and disabilities...they give you a gym induction and make you aware of what is suitable for your needs .maybe have a look at going down that route if you have a local gym close to hand . You don't have to attend a PR class to get a GP referral but no harm in asking your doc if he can refer you to the gym get discounted prices and helps at hand Angie x x


That's a good idea and certainly worth asking my GP about. She's really great so if she can, she will. Xx


Hi Clare, here is a link to an ebook by Dr. Noah Greenspan - 'Ultimate Pulmonary Wellness Book'. It is a very informative book on all aspects of COPD with a section all about exercise. Well worth a read.



Thank you! What an amazing source of information. It will take a while to get through it all but it's brilliant!

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Hi clareb67,

I recognise you from the lupus forum and I too was diagnosed with lupus which has damaged my lungs (Pulmonary Fibrosis).

Last year I was sent to Pulmonary rehab but I find it very distressing and debilitating which causes fatigue and lots of chest infections as the others all had colds and my immune system was very low because of the treatment I had just had. I did not finish the course.

I use ambulatory oxygen 6 litre a minute but when I went for my next check at the clinic for the oxygen and I started to do the six minute walk I was told to slow down, my oxygen sats level dropped drastically and I was then told you will have to increase the oxygen to 8L. I did not want that so I said I was told at the Pulmonary Rehab to walk quickly and we should get out of breath.

The technician said no you have to walk slowly, when my oxygen saturation rose I did the six minute walk again this time at my normal walking pace and with six L and was okay.

I hope this won't put you off but you off exercising. I too am slim even with taking steroids, I try and eat healthy but have my moments of eating whatever I fancy.

Your Respiratory consultation should be able to advise you regarding exercise.

All the best xx


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