World COPD Day is an annual event observed every year on November 18, with an effort to create awareness among the public about this lung disorder, share information and plan effective strategies to lessen the burden of this chronic condition. This day is organised by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) in association with medical fraternities and COPD patients across the globe.
This health day that was first held in 2002, now has organizers in more than 50 countries carrying out several campaigns and activities, making the event as one of the most important educational and awareness programs. This year’s theme is “Living Well with COPD-Everybody, Everywhere”, which highlights the positive message to patients, although COPD does not completely cure, there are several ways to effectively manage and improve the quality of life.
The main aim of this campaign is to bring about awareness for planning interventions like pulmonary rehabilitation, improve physical activity, self-management and provide better nutritional support, besides emphasis on the need of good social and mental well-being.
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As per the statistics, there are currently 300 million people affected by COPD worldwide, which is the third leading cause of mortality and is highly prevalent in low-income countries. In India, COPD is the second leading cause of mortality. Exposure to detrimental environmental particles, indoor dust and smoking are the main risk factors for COPD, while recent evidence has revealed that poor lung growth before and after birth can also elevate the risk of COPD later in life.
What Is COPD?
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disorder (COPD) is a severe and progressive lung condition that damages the air sacs in the lungs causing breathing difficulties and impede the quality of life. This condition is mostly diagnosed after 45 years of age, however individual with a genetic disease like Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) may develop COPD at a younger age. The symptoms slowly progress and worsen over time, thereby debilitating a person day to day activities. Some of the signs include coughing, breathing difficulty, and chest discomfort, shortness of breath, wheezing, frequent respiratory infections and swelling in ankles, feet or legs.
Read through this article to gain an insight about 5 exercises that proactively manage COPD symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.
5 Effective Exercises That Help People To Live Better With COPD
Doctors suggest that physical activity can greatly people with COPD feel better, improve the shortness of breath and lessen symptoms. Physical inactivity, on the other hand, can hinder the cardiac function and muscle mass, which may make the patient more breathless every time they exert. However, exercise cannot reverse lung damage, but it can tremendously enhance physical stamina and strengthen respiratory muscles, which can make the patient feel physically and emotionally better and involved in activities without getting exhausted or losing breath.
With little time and effort, you can build up cardiac endurance and lung health. It is very vital to be regular and establish a structured exercise program. Some people stop their workouts once they start feeling better, which can eventually worsen the condition.
Before starting with any workout regimen, always ensure to consult with your health care provider. For a patient suffering from moderate to severe COPD, the doctor may initially refer the patient to a pulmonary rehabilitation program.
Choose activities that you enjoy doing and find a workout partner to stay motivated. Aerobic or cardiovascular exercises, upper body resistance or weight training may be valuable to strengthen the heart, lungs and respiratory muscles.
Walking is a great choice of low impact activity that can improve a person's ability to use oxygen, build stamina, strengthen muscles and uplift overall well-being. Regular walking can also make it simpler for people with COPD to be more independent and progress with normal activities.
Jogging like other regular workouts makes your muscles stronger and also boost lungs and heart health. As physical activity improves the body naturally becomes more efficient in getting oxygen into the bloodstream and carrying it to all vital organs.
The heart rate slowly increases while cycling, where the lungs take in more oxygen and allow oxygenated blood to reach muscles, thus improving lung normal process and function. Furthermore, focussing on deep breathing while bicycling is mainly beneficial to enhance complete respiratory health.
Low impact aerobics can greatly promote blood circulation and help the system use oxygen more efficiently and lessen COPD symptoms. It also assists in building energy levels so you can perform normal activates without becoming exhausted or breathless.
This workout aims in strengthening an important breathing muscle, the diaphragm. Sit in an easy chair with one hand on your chest and other below the rib cage. Gently inhale through your nose and exhale with pursed lips and tighten your tummy. The hand on the chest should not move. Do this 5-10 minutes, thrice a day to make breathing easy and effortless.
It is very important to warm up and stretch before exercising and cool down post workouts, this can lessen the strain on your heart, muscles and joints. Start slowly and gradually increase the strength and duration of your exercises. The goal is to workout up to 30 minutes, four times a week.