Respect your copd, and don’t overdo your exercise routine

I have never read so much in praise of the vast benefits exercise offers to sufferers of copd. Some claim envious achievements with amazing claims of hope that pure exercise offers.

I have as those that regularly read my blog know, attended pulmonary rehabilitation. This is a must attend programme for anyone with copd. Only by going on this course will you understand the importance of exercise, and learn all about your medication and how to be in control of your illness. Very importantly you will also learn at Pulmonary Rehabilitation that being breathless is not in itself dangerous.

Exercise will strengthen you and make you feel better. It will help your breathing, give you confidence, and in many cases enable you to do more. But like all things only in moderation. Overdone it could be dangerous. In all cases exercise only according to your limitations. Exercise will not cure you, and will not stop you being breathless.

The ability and tolerance to exercise is different to each of us. Different stages of copd means that what each of us can sensibly hope to achieve will be different. When I had mild copd I walked long distances and climbed hills and mountains. As I progressed to moderate stage, at first I could still walk a reasonable distance, and climb mountains even though slower.

I reached the upper level of severe stage and walked shorter distances. It was harder and took longer to climb smaller mountains. But I did it as I wanted to prove that I could still get up there. I approached the middle stage of severe and attempted my last mountain. On the climb I became so breathless I stopping every few yards and took very many hours to reach the peak. It was equally hard coming down as my oxygen saturation levels had fallen so low. I realised I had reached the end of my days on mountains and in the wilderness. And now being in stage very severe, view small hills as Everest, and walking can be slow and uncomfortable with frequent stops. As you can see by my example, what you can do is directly related to what stage copd you are.

Do not do what you know is unwise because of your personal physical limitation. There is not one person that will think less of you for it. But many may think you were stupid to have done so if you do so and then get ill. Don’t think either for one minute that you have to be on your feet moving around all the time to keep a reasonable fitness. You must be aware of the dangers of depleting energy, remember us with copd have less energy reserves than fit people. If you deplete too much energy, you will weaken and become more susceptible to illness.

I am speaking from experience and offering you wisdom from this as often I have pushed until I have been ill. Thinking I would build stamina if I kept going. It never happened.

I started to check oxygen and heart beat to see what was happening to me during exercise. I saw that while normally my o2 level dropped on exercise, and heart rate rose, they would return to normal quite quickly. But keep going, pushing myself and slowly my blood oxygen levels became lower than they normally did. To compensate my heart rate rose. Worse is when I rested both heart rate and blood saturation levels took longer to get back to how they usually are. Stupidly I would sometimes continue until finally I would be stopping every couple of steps as my heart raced, and oxygen levels dropped to dangerous levels. It is plain to me that once oxygen saturation levels reach a certain level. The tank takes a very long time to fill again.

Returning home my oxygen levels would stay lower than normal until at least the next day, and pulse high. How I did not kill myself with a heart attack with the stress I must have put my body through I do not know. I am the first to admit. It was dangerous, unnecessary, and stupid.

Now I am more sensible. I use my exercise cycle for half an hour six days a week and walk a little every day. Steps, stretch, weight, and stand up exercises for half an hour at least three times a week are part of my fitness routine. An active social programme is very important to me and ensures I get light exercise and fresh air. My hobby, photography, enables me to get out and about to wonderful vistas, offering gentle exercise. It is also amazing how often people strike up a conservation when out and about with a camera. Equally as important is I rest often. Several hours every day. This makes sure I keep up both energy and oxygen levels. This ensures a more healthy resting heart rate and O2 blood levels. And as I have mentioned in past blogs, I now have a mobility scooter (cart) to help me when I need to get out and about and it would mean slopes and hills.

Although I am warning about overdoing an exercise routine. I cannot stress enough how very important it is to your health and welfare to have a regular exercise regime limited to what your are easily able to do. You should also have as good a social calendar as you are able to achieve.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this rather over long blog. Till my next outpouring. Whatever you are doing keep that smile going, yes it really is infectious, and most of all, Breathe Easy.:-)

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