There are many reasons why it’s important to keep active if you have a lung condition, not least because weak muscles need more oxygen. So how can you get started to become stronger and less sedentary? We’ve come up with five ways to increase everyday activity with a respiratory condition to help you get the ball rolling…
- Take part in a pulmonary rehabilitation course
Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) is an exercise course designed for people who have a lung condition and breathing difficulties that affect their ability to be active. As well as providing help on exercise, it involves sharing useful information about how to take care of your body and lungs and usually runs over a period of 6-8 weeks.
While most people who go to PR have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), people with other long-term lung conditions can benefit, too. You’ll learn how to strengthen your muscles so they need less oxygen and as well as how to cope better with breathlessness. You’ll meet people who understand your limitations and frustrations and it’s a great way to make new friends and build confidence too.
Not sure if you should join a PR course? Find out more from the British Lung Foundation (BLF), or check with your practice nurse, GP or respiratory clinician if PR is right for you.
- Join a group
There’s nothing like talking to people who are in the same boat as you to open up your eyes to new ways of doing things day-to-day. Widening your social circle will automatically bring new opportunities to get out and about, whether it’s to meet up in a café or go for a walk. If you’re stuck in a rut, others can give you the inspiration you need to do more.
There are lots of different groups to choose from, whether you want to exercise or simply chat. Find your local BLF Active group here, and there are more than 230 BLF Breathe Easy groups across the UK for sociable group support.
- Singing for Lung Health
Do you ever sing around the house? Now could be the time to start. Singing might not immediately spring to mind when you think about managing a respiratory disease, but Singing for Lung Health (SLH), also known as Singing for Breathing, has created a lot of interest in recent years as a way of improving lung conditions.
SLH involves developing your posture and breathing control, essentially training your breathing patterns to improve them. This can help you to recover from breathlessness and there’s also some evidence that it can help with clearing sputum.
Singing in a group is sociable and enjoyable, with all the wellbeing benefits that it brings. Not only will it get you out and about, but you can also practice at home in between sessions. You don’t need to be an amazing singer to get involved, and you’ll find that your voice should become stronger in time, helping your everyday speech.
Ready to find out more? You can read up on SLH and find your local group here.
- Go walking outdoors
A lung condition can take its toll on your immune system, making it easier to pick up viruses and harmful bacteria. Walking outdoors can help to boost the immune system as well as increasing relaxation. Whether you’re strolling in a park or walking in your back garden, the very act of going outside should help you to feel more energised. Regular half-hour brisk walks can even help to increase your lung capacity, making breathing easier. More sunlight increases your production of vitamin D, too, and helps energise your T-cells, which fight infection.
It can be tempting to avoid walking for fear of getting breathless – it may even be that your family and friends are keen to give you lifts and do jobs for you because they don’t want you to struggle. If that’s the case, remind them that walking outdoors is good for you and getting breathless is simply part of the process because of your condition. If you’re walking with someone else, tell them that you may need to stop for rests, and ask them to be patient. Go at your own pace – your version of brisk and someone else’s will not be the same!
- Rediscover your garden
Maybe your garden isn’t getting the care and attention it once used to, because of your lung condition. If so, why not reinvent your outdoor space to make it easier to carry on gardening? Would you find raised beds easier to work with, for example? Do you need some lightweight tools to make things easier? There are some great tips here on how to adapt your garden if you can’t do as much as you used to.
It may be sensible to wear a mask, especially when dealing with compost or on windy days, to avoid breathing in any fungal spores. Wearing gloves, changing and washing your outer clothes and washing your hands after a gardening session are all useful precautions to take to avoid fungal infection.
What are your top tips on doing more with a respiratory condition? Why not let us know and share some pictures – you could inspire someone else!
Medical information. This is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for advice by a doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. Patients should not use the information on the Active Patients website for diagnosing a health or fitness problem or disease. Patients should always consult with a doctor or other health professional for medical advice or information about diagnosis and treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice because of something you have read on Active Patients.