Using Exercise to Manage Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

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Managing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) With Exercise

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 and imapre your breathing.

There are two types of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease COPD:

One being chronic bronchitis which involves chronic inflammation and thickening of the airways which causes spasming of the airways. 

The other type of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 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 Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 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 as a treatment for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease COPD

Exercise is a very important aspect of managing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease COPD symptoms. Just as our muscles can get stronger, our lungs can and need to be strengthened and healed 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 and fatigue, increase exercise endurance, improve health related quality of life and improve self-efficacy.

Both strength training and aerobic training are important to focus on - something our Kieser Method of physical training is the perfect match for. Furthermore, there are specific lung exercises that can be completed to focus on improving lung function. 

Visit your Exercise Physiologist at a convenient Kieser location today to learn more about how exercise can be a useful treatment for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 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.