Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease


COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is a progressive condition of the lungs, causing difficulty breathing. As the name implies, the condition causes an obstruction in the airways. There are two types of COPD, one being chronic bronchitis which involves chronic inflammation and thickening of the airways which causes spasming of the airways. The other type of COPD is emphysema, which involves irreversible damage to the alveoli where the oxygen and carbon dioxide is exchanged to the circulating blood. Over time more of the airways in the lungs are affected by the condition and destruction occurs. Commonly, an individual with COPD will have a persistent cough and may produce excessive mucus.

The leading cause of COPD is cigarette smoking, however other causes can be exposure to lung irritants such as air pollution, chemical fumes or dust, and in rare cases, the genetic condition alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency can cause the disease.

Exercise & COPD

Exercise is a very important aspect of managing COPD. Just as our muscles can get stronger, our lungs can and need to be strengthened as well. Exercise can help decrease the demand on the respiratory system for activities of daily living, improve respiratory muscle fitness, decrease symptoms, shortness of breath & fatigue, increase exercise endurance, improve health related quality of life and improve self-efficacy. Both strength and aerobic training are important to focus on. Furthermore, there are specific lung exercises that can be completed to focus on improving lung function. 

Visit your Exercise Physiologist at Kieser today to learn more about exercise & COPD.


Berry MJ, Rejeski WJ, Adair NE and Zaccaro D. Exercise rehabilitation and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease stage. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 1999; 160(4): 1248–1253.

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