Working Out When You're Short of Breath

For most of us, being short of breath is a signal to slow down, pause on that second or third flight of steps, or maybe take a few deep breaths once you’ve made it to the departing bus. When you’re working out, it’s your body’s way of making you shift back a gear or two. But what if you’re short of breath most or all of the time?

Patients with conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can have a hard time breathing without any exertion at all. Their doctors may want them to get some light exercise – perhaps for their heart health or to improve their ability to breathe – but they’re stuck in a vicious cycle. They can’t breathe so they don’t exercise, which can lead to more breathing problems.

For these patients or for anyone with respiratory symptoms (maybe someone recovering from bronchitis or pneumonia), Pulmonary Rehabilitation is one way to break the cycle.

In the FMH Pulmonary Rehabilitation program, patients come in to the hospital’s gym and work out in a medically-monitored environment. Staff-members keep a close eye on each patient’s oxygen levels as they work on conditioning, breathing retraining, aerobic and strengthening exercises.

Each patient develops an individualized treatment plan with specific goals developed with his or her physician. In addition to monitored exercise, participants also attend classes designed to teach them how to cope with shortness of breath and improve their lung function.

Over the years, studies have found several demonstrated benefits of Pulmonary Rehabilitation programs, including:

  • Reduced respiratory symptoms such as dyspnea (shortness of breath) and fatigue
  • Increased muscle strength and endurance
  • Increased knowledge about lung disease and management
  • Increased ability to perform tasks of daily living
  • Increased quality of life
  • Decreased depression and anxiety
  • Reduced pulmonary exacerbations and decreased use of medical resources
  • Ability to return to work or leisure activities

We all take breathing for granted – until it’s hard to do it. If you know someone who might benefit from FMH’s American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation-certified Pulmonary Rehabilitation program, please give us a call at 240-566-3229 for more information.

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