Cindy Payne, Director of Therapeutic Recreation, Touchpoints at Bloomfield
(appeared in the Windsor Locks Journal, Windsor Journal and Bloomfield Messenger)
BLOOMFIELD – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, is a condition that makes it harder to breathe and worsens over time. While smoking is the most common cause of COPD, long-term exposure to other lung irritants—such as air pollution or chemical fumes can also bring an onset of COPD symptoms.
COPD disrupts the airflow in and out of the lungs and reduces lung function and elasticity. Symptoms of COPD may include wheezing, cough, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Over time, most people with COPD develop many of these symptoms. COPD is a chronic disease, and although your symptoms may vary from day to day, it’s important to take your medicine as prescribed. This lung disease can make simple physical activities like a short walk or climbing stairs tiresome. Doctors suggest that exercise can actually improve COPD patients’ physical and emotional well being, while be inactive can worsen conditions.
COPD may include one or both of these conditions:
- Chronic bronchitis, which is increased cough and mucus production caused by inflammation of the airways. Bronchitis is considered chronic (or long-term) if a person coughs and produces excess mucus most days for several months during 2 years in a row.
- Emphysema, which is a disease that damages the air sacs and may damage the small airways in the lungs.
It is preferable to introduce various forms of exercise that use different muscles involving the whole body, such as recreational activities, as they are an appropriate approach to stimulating physical activity and to improving functional fitness gradually while improving health-related quality of life, though it is necessary to practice exercises for maintenance and improvement in patients with COPD. Example of some physical forms of activity are:
- Cardiovascular exercise involves steady aerobic activity that uses large muscle groups and strengthens your heart and lungs. This type of exercise improves your body’s ability to use oxygen. Over time, you’ll experience decreased heart rate and blood pressure and your heart won’t need to work as hard during physical activities, which will improve your breathing.
- Strengthening or resistance exercises use repeated muscle contractions to break down and then rebuild muscle. Resistance exercises for the upper body can help build strength in your respiratory muscles.
- Stretching and flexibility exercises like yoga and Pilates can enhance coordination and breathing.
Despite these benefits, it’s important to use caution when exercising with COPD. Increasing your level of physical activity can trigger symptoms like shortness of breath. Talk to your doctor before you begin any exercise program.
Identifying high quality COPD care as a need in the region, Touchpoints at Bloomfield now specializes in Pulmonary Care. To this end, earlier this year, Touchpoints at Bloomfield partnered with and welcomed Dr. John Rodgers and Dr. William Preskenis, esteemed pulmonologists from Prime Healthcare. For information on the Pulmonary Program, or any iCare program or facility, please contact the iCentral admissions team at (860) 812-0788.