5 Best Exercises for COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD is a general term for lung diseases, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis, caused by the narrowing of the small airways or bronchi in the lungs. Symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath, wheezing, recurrent respiratory infections and chronic cough.

Is Exercise Beneficial?

There is no cure for COPD, but the symptoms can be treated. Exercise can be a beneficial part of the treatment regimen for many COPD patients. Exercise can help to ease COPD symptoms for some sufferers by reducing the stress, anxiety and depression that often accompanies COPD; improving circulation so that the body can use oxygen more efficiently; increasing endurance; strengthening the heart and lowering blood pressure; and strengthening the muscles, especially in the upper body.

Any good COPD exercise program is developed in conjunction with a doctor or respiratory therapist. Exercise, including breathing exercises, can be an important part of a comprehensive pulmonary rehabilitation program under the direction of a qualified respiratory therapist.

Among the best exercises for COPD are those, like yoga and tai chi, which help to reduce stress while building strength, aerobic and cardiovascular exercises like walking, exercises that strengthen the upper body, and stretching exercises.


Exercises To Help Ease COPD Symptoms

Here are five exercises that may help to ease COPD symptoms for some sufferers.


Yoga can be an excellent exercise routine for COPD sufferers. Its combination of meditation and stress reduction techniques, stretching and strengthening exercises, and controlled breathing can help to reduce anxiety, induce relaxation and strengthen the body.

Tai Chi

Tai chi is sometimes called “meditation in motion.” It uses graceful, flowing movements and dance-like poses to reduce stress and promote relaxation and a feeling of well being. In addition, it enhances flexibility, improves balance and builds muscle strength and tone. Tai chi movements are coordinated with breathing. This low-impact exercise routine, which can be tailored to the individual’s capability, can be ideal for COPD sufferers.


Low-impact aerobic or cardiovascular exercise can be very beneficial for COPD sufferers. Walking is a good choice for many people with COPD for several reasons: it is easy; it can be fun, especially if you walk with a friend or relative (which may make it easier to sustain a walking regimen over an extended period); and it can help to improve circulation, endurance and muscle strength. Start your walking program gradually and work up to 20 to 30 minutes a day at least three times a week if you can.

Upper Body Weight Training

Working with free weights or on weight machines can help to strengthen the upper body, including the respiratory muscles and, as a result, can be beneficial to those with COPD.


Stretching exercises help to improve flexibility and range of motion. In addition, when done before other more strenuous exercise activities, they can help to avoid muscle strain and injury.



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