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Exercise & COPD

Exercise may seem dangerous or impossible, but there are many benefits of staying active when you have COPD.


Breaking the cycle

When you have COPD, it's easy to avoid being active. Avoiding activity can lead to a cycle of weaker muscles, more breathlessness, further avoiding activities that could cause breathlessness and worsening of COPD symptoms. This is called the Cycle of Inactivity.

By exercising regularly, you can break this cycle and create a new cycle (the Cycle of Activity) in which exercising becomes easier and helps you feel better, which motivates you to continue exercising. Pulmonary rehabilitation is an excellent way to help you stay active when you have COPD.


Remember: Speak to your doctor or other member of your healthcare team before beginning any exercise program. Here are some questions you can ask and tips to keep in mind.


The benefits of exercise

Do more with less effort

As you become less physically active, your muscles (including your heart) become less efficient and have to work harder. This can leave you tired and breathless. Regular exercise can help your lungs, heart and other muscles work more efficiently.

Reduce the severity and number of flareups

Exercise makes your lungs stronger. It also makes your immune system stronger, improving your body’s ability to fight off infections.

Maintain a healthy weight

Regular exercise can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight, which can help make it easier for you to breathe. It also can help prevent muscle wasting that occurs in later stages of COPD.

Improve your quality of life

It can increase your energy level, reduce feelings of anxiety, depression or stress and help you maintain or regain your independence.

This section was made possible by an unrestricted educational grant from Astra Zeneca Canada.