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Exercising with Chronic Lung Disease: Increasing Endurance

Endurance exercises help to condition your muscles. This helps increase what you are able to do. These are aerobic exercises, meaning they help your body use oxygen better. Over time, they’ll help you have more energy and less shortness of breath.

Man sitting in chair holding rod on lap. Man is wearing nasal cannula connected to oxygen tank. Arrows at shoulder height show level to lift arms for exercise.
Start by lifting both arms to shoulder height. As a challenge, lift your arms above your head.

Wand Work

  1. Hold a wand or rolled towel on your lap. Keep your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. Inhale.

  2. While gently exhaling through pursed lips, lift both arms up to shoulder level. When you’re finished exhaling, inhale and return to starting position.

  3. As you master this exercise, try to lift your arms a little higher each time. The goal is to lift them as high as you can toward the ceiling. Remember to exhale as you lift.

Note: You can also try using a stretchy elastic band instead of a wand. This helps build strength. 

Special instructions: _____________________________________________________

Five people sitting in exercise class with arms raised overhead, leaning to one side.

Roller Coaster Wave

  1. Inhale. Then while exhaling, lift both arms over your head.

  2. Wave your arms from one side to the other until you’re done exhaling. Don’t twist.

  3. Inhale while returning to starting position. Exhale as you repeat the wave.

Note: If lifting your arms above your head is too hard, try holding them in front of you at shoulder level instead.

Special instructions: _____________________________________________________

Riding a Stationary Bicycle

  1. Adjust the seat so your knees are only slightly bent when the pedals are at their lowest points.

  2. Begin to pedal at a comfortable pace. Do pursed-lip breathing as you pedal.

  3. In time, your healthcare provider or pulmonary rehabilitation team may suggest adding resistance to make your muscles work harder.

Use the bike for _______ minutes

Special instructions: _____________________________________________________

Using a Treadmill

  1. Make sure you know how the treadmill works before you use it.

  2. Start walking at a comfortable pace. Do pursed-lip breathing as you walk.

  3. As you get stronger, your healthcare provider or pulmonary rehabilitation team may suggest increasing speed or adding elevation.

Note: Regular walking is just as good as using a treadmill. Walk on a level surface. You may want to use a walker with wheels. If you use oxygen, you can put the oxygen unit in the basket of the walker.

Walk for _______ minutes.

Special instructions: _____________________________________________________


Pursed-Lip Breathing

Inhaling through the nose and exhaling through pursed lips makes breathing easier during exercise. To do pursed-lip breathing:

  1. Relax your neck and shoulder muscles. Inhale slowly through your nose for at least 2 counts.

  2. Pucker your lips as if to blow out a candle. Exhale slowly and gently through your pursed lips for at least twice as long as you inhaled.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 1/15/2007
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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