Is exercise really good for COPD?

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We are frequently told that for people with COPD exercise is important - it is supposed to strengthen the existing lung tissue - but I wonder, can it do more harm than good?

Damaged lungs, whatever the cause, do not repair themselves but why does COPD become worse?   No one seems to have the answer.

I was an asthmatic child and after smoking ten cigarettes a day in my twenties, was diagnosed with COPD.   I haven't touched a cigarette for over 40 years.   I am now in my late seventies.

Always active, I used to go ballroom dancing three or four nights a week; have always loved gardening and long walks.   I have also practised GENTLE yoga exercises and deep breathing.     Fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and wholewheat bread with some red meat  have been the basis of my diet.   

Now in my retirement years, living by the sea (pure air), I have walked along the beach every day, while trying to keep up the gardening etc.  This has all become more and more difficult and over the years, my lungs have become steadily worse, in spite of my efforts to do the right things.    

So have the experts got it wrong?    In the early stages of COPD, should we be resting more and cutting down the exercise, giving the lungs a chance to heal?        

 

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  • Posted

    I think you would be in a worse state of health if you had not exercised. Well done for doing so well
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    • Posted

      Thanks for your comment. Maybe you are right. It has made me feel better about myself.
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  • Posted

    Hi Grete.  The principle behind exercise is the fitter we are the less oxygen our organs will need so there is more for breathing.  

    The reasons for getting worse is with damaged lungs any exacerbation or lung related illness can leave scarring and accelerates the damage whereas it doesn't with 'normal' people.

    Also apparently we lose around 0.2 lung capacity simply due to the aging process alone.  

    I understand that you are having more problems with your breathing but I think you would be a whole lot worse if you didn't do all that you doing now.  So keep up the good work.  

    Have you been back to your doctors coz maybe you have an undiagnosed infection which is making you worse at the moment?  x

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    • Posted

      Thank you for your post. I usually only go back to the doctor if I feel I have a definite infection. Then its the usual prednisolone and antibiotics. Other than that, they don't seem interested. Until about three months ago, I could enjoy a walk but it has become a real effort. Stopping every so often to get my breath. I think you are right. I had forgotten that old age must play a part in this. Good wishes.
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    • Posted

      Oh I am surprised at that.  I am in the UK and go to the doctors as well if I have worsening of my symptoms even without an infection.  I still think you should go back anyway coz something else might be going on,  x
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  • Posted

    The conventional wisdom is that exercise increases your exercise tolerance and at the same time enables your muscles to use oxygen more efficiently. Certainly exercise isn't easy but that old adage remains to "Use it or lose it". Without exercise muscles atrophy and without a "regular outing" it becomes harder and harder (well more hard, if you understand me). In any event we all lose a percentage of lung efficiency as we age - unfortunately us COPDers are starting with little lung efficiently in the first place.
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  • Posted

    With all due respect Grete, you are 70 years old and this is a progressive disease. Sounds like u did all you could to stay as healthy as possible but you have to realize that it is gonna catch up with you at some point in spite of all your efforts. But I am sure you have prolonged it by being so health conscious...and you can still live several years even if u are on oxygen 24/7 like I am. Stay in prayer and God bless you. 
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    • Posted

      Yes I know what you are saying is true. I find it hard to accept that I am old and my lungs would deteriorate anyway, even if I didn't have COPD. Whatever I have tried to do couldn't change that.

      I suppose, like many others with lung disease I always hope that a miracle will happen, my lungs will heal and I can live without inhalers. Not a chance though.

      You sound a very positive person in spite of being on oxygen 24/7. Thank you for taking the trouble to reply. Good wishes.

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    • Posted

      Oh my dear Grete....please don't say "not a chance"! 

      There is a 100% chance that a miracle will happen and God will heal you...you just need to pray about it and claim that He will heal you and have faith that He will. And He will! But it will be in His time...not our time. We have to remember that. I don't know where you are spiritually but I hope you know Him and do believe. We have to have hope. I'm only 54 and my grandkids are young and there is so much I haven't done in life. I have to have faith or my life will be over much too soon. I will say...since I've been on oxygen and quit smoking, so many things have improved about my skin and circulation..I had been compensating for shallow breathing for a long time and didn't realize it. And I'm finding my blood oxygen levels are maintaining themselves around 92 without the oxygen for moderate periods of time now so the medicine really helps with that too. Pray for me sister, and I will pray for you! Have faith!

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    • Posted

      I wish I had your faith and strong belief in God working miracles. Yes, I might pray but the result is up to Him and as you say, 'in His time' and then only if He wishes..

      I am glad that you have told a little more about yourself because I had been thinking about you and your courage. It's inspiring that your blood oxygen levels are maintaining themselves for short periods. You have hope. I will be inspired by that.

      Thank you.

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    • Posted

      Aawww...you seem very sweet Grete. Please talk to me any time. I mean that. I'm sure you could teach me a thing or 2 as well!  (Smile)

      Gina

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    • Posted

      It is true, mirricals can happen. I mannaged to do what I was told would not be possible and have reduced my lung age from 59 to 37 and efficiancy from 76 to 93%! meaning im no longer technicaly in a COPD category although there is still some permanant dammage due to smoking.

      Im 33yo so age has really been on my side. I smoked vewry heavily from age 14 until about 7 weeks ago when i turned to ecigs and not touched tobacco since.

      THERE IS ALWAYS A CHANCE!!

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    • Posted

      Way to go Nick00070!  I know miracles happen every day and maybe even to me too. I also stopped smoking Sept 3rd 2014...the day they admitted me in the hospital and found COPD. When dismissed, I was supposed to be on Oxygen 24/7 but the medicine, and no smoking has got my pulse Ox level around 92 without oxygen! I don't know any other numbers bc im still trying to be seen by a specialist thru the County program but I feel like im way better than what they predicted.  Anyways....your news is inspiring and i pray I will be an inspiration too! Thanks for sharing! 
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    • Posted

      Wonderful success story. If this is a miracle then maybe you are one of the 'chosen ones'. Though I am sure it has a lot to do with you giving up tobacco. You have helped your lungs. The future looks good for you.

      Grete.

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  • Posted

    lungs are resilient up to a point. you are doing all the right things by exercising and being in fresh sea air. Once damaged the lungs are difficult to repair unfortunately although inflammation of the bronchus will go down after giving your smoking up.

    Richard

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