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  • Dr. Mrinmayee Koltharkar

EXERCISE AS MEDICINE: FOR LUNG PATIENTS

An Alarming report says that lung diseases will become the second biggest killer globally and currently 100 million Indians suffer from them.


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Lung Fibrosis, Interstitial Lung Disease, Asthma, Bronchiectasis, Lung Cancer & various other lung diseases are rising at astonishing rates. The queue outside a Chest Physician’s clinic seems never ending. Now, EXERCISE is also a prescribed medicine along with various traditional Antibiotics, Steroids, Anti Allergic and Inhalers to name a few.


Lung patients usually complain of breathlessness on climbing stairs, walking, talking, bathing, wearing clothes, tying shoe laces. Being so prone to breathlessness they end up believing “Lung patients should NOT EXERCISE to conserve oxygen” which is nothing but a common myth!!


People with chronic lung disease get stuck in a vicious cycle of inactivity:



How do I break this cycle?


In order to break the cycle of inactivity you need to increase physical activity/Exercise. Exerting yourself makes you breathless – this is normal! It is not dangerous to be out of breath if you exercise under proper guidance. As you progress, you may find you are able to do more.



How can exercise help Lung patients?


Exercises are Big Value packages which result in specific benefits along with general improvements in Lung patients by,

  • Decreasing Breathlessness

  • Improving Exercise capacity

  • Improving Quality of Life

  • Psychosocial Development

  • Improving Muscle & Bone strength

  • Decrease hospitalizations

  • Reduced number of exacerbations/infections


This benefit package can be achieved regardless of severity of lung disease; but an INDIVIDUALIZED Safe program is Mandatory.

How to exercise safely?


Make sure that you follow these simple rules:

  • Always warm up before & cool down after exercising

  • Wear loose comfortable clothing and soft-soled, non-slip shoes

  • Have eaten lightly, but wait at least an hour after a meal to exercise

  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise

  • Have your rescue medication with you whenever you are exercising

During Exercises:


  • Train but not strain. If severe breathlessness occurs: STOP-PAUSE-RECOVER-RESTART

  • Let Oxygen Saturation be >88%

  • May require Supplemental Oxygen Therapy while exercise if Oxygen Saturation is < 88%

  • May require Inhaler therapy

  • Pacing/Interval training might be useful

  • Breathlessness should be a maximum around 3-4/on scale of 10

Don’t start exercising, or STOP if you feel:

  • Chest pains or tightness

  • Dizzy or nauseous

  • Clammy or cold

  • Increasingly wheezy

  • Pain in your joints or muscles

  • Abnormally tired


Which Exercises to Include?


The essential components of exercises for lung patients are

  • Breathing Exercises

  • Aerobic training varying from walking to using treadmill, cycle, elliptical etc.

  • Flexibility to stretch the tight muscles

  • Weight training to strengthen muscles


Exercise is a Magic pill


An Effective combination of Medications, Nutrition & Oxygen therapy has Several Huge benefits,

NO Side-effects or Drug Interactions, Adjustable Dose, Frequency, Duration and is COST EFFECTIVE!!


So enjoy the Magic pill & BREATH BETTER!

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