Being diagnosed with a lung condition, such as asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), may feel like a blow to your ability to exercise. People were once told to refrain from all strenuous physical activity. Thankfully, researchers have discovered that exercising, even with lung problems, is crucial to a healthy lifestyle. Doing the right types of exercise can improve breathing and alleviate symptoms. Exercise also boosts energy, making it easier to be more active. However, it is important to always keep your limits in perspective. Don’t overdo it. Start out slow and build your way up.
One excellent form of exercise is tai chi, an ancient Chinese martial art. Coordinating body movements and breathing, it is gentle on your lungs, meanwhile improving their working ability. A Thai study enrolled 17 adults with chronic asthma in a tai chi training program that lasted six weeks. Afterwards, patients greatly improved in peak flow variability and asthma control.
Certain aerobic exercises, such as swimming, stationary cycling, and walking, exert your heart and lungs to build endurance, therefore aiding your use of oxygen, and helping you to breathe better. Many aerobic activities can be done in controlled environments, like gyms or indoor pools, which keep conditions from being too cold or dry.
Practicing yoga is also beneficial to people with lung disorder because it largely consists of breathing exercises, which strengthen the lungs. In 2012, the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine conducted a study of women with mild to moderate asthma who did yoga training over 10 weeks. They significantly improved their “quality of life scores” after undergoing training. Hatha yoga is the most widely practiced form of yoga in America. It combines stretches and postures called “asanas” in order to achieve inner emotional peace and smooth bodily function. Some of these postures include Bhujangasana, which stretches the spine and opens shoulders, chest, and lungs, and Tadasana, which fortifies chest muscles and builds up lung capacity.
Make your routine more enjoyable by grabbing your smartphone and using it to its full potential. Beat boredom by downloading fitness apps. Listen to books on audio. There are even college-level “books” you can listen to, if you’re studying for a particular degree. Utilize that running armband too (or any band for that matter) as it will be much easier to do a routine with your smartphone out of the way.
Aim for about 30 minutes, four days a week, if you’re able. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t go as long as you’d like without needing a break (or several). It takes both time and patience to start feeling positive results of exercise, and that includes lung endurance. Consult a healthcare provider about what types of exercise are best for your condition, and how to best combine your medication and exercise routine for the greatest benefits.