Breathe easy: Exercise!

Image result for breathe easy: exerciseThose who experience respiratory conditions can benefit from exercising on a regular basis.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the term used to cover a range of respiratory conditions including emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic asthma. COPD affects one in six kiwis.

Asthma is the most common respiratory condition, and it affects both children (1 in 7) and adults. It’s caused by sensitive airways which cause tightening and swelling which can make it difficult to breathe. The symptoms of the average asthmatic vary greatly. Some have mild symptoms which can be managed easily, and many experience severe effects that can require hospitalisation and daily management. Symptoms can be aggravated by colds, dust mites and weather conditions.

While asthma can be aggravated by exercise, it is also a tool for managing symptoms and generally improving wellbeing. Exercise strengthens your respiratory system and makes it easier for you to breathe so there’s no reason to stop, or slow down. When you a have a good level of physical fitness, you are able to process oxygen more efficiently, and your muscles are able to do more work with decreased oxygen. What you can give up however is a damp living environment, smoking, and an unhealthy lifestyle as these things can make your asthma worse.

If you are struggling to manage your asthma symptoms, then you should always consult with your doctor for advice and guidance. While there is no cure for COPD, there are plenty of ways to manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

Up to 15% of adults over 45 suffer from COPD, such as emphysema. COPD in this age group is most often caused by smoking. Even with this type of condition, part of the treatment is exercise, although often at a much lower level than an asthmatic. Exercise has the same strengthening impact on respiratory and muscular structures.

If you have asthma or another form of COPD, exercise should form part of your treatment and part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. We recommend checking in with your doctor prior to starting an exercise programme and making sure you use a REPs registered exercise professional who has the knowledge and skill to support you with getting started.

We also recommend:

  • Making sure you carry your asthma medication with you during a workout (if you are working with an exercise professional they will be happy to carry this in their kit, especially for outdoor sessions).
  • Take time to warm your body up with gentle heart rate raising activities before engaging in strenuous exercise.
  • If your asthma is triggered by cold weather conditions, during the winter keep your workout indoors.
  • Keeping your exercise professional up to date with your symptoms so they can modify your workout to suit.

NOTE: THIS IS A REPS NZ media release. 

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