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Exercising with Chronic Lung Disease: Increasing Strength

Building muscle strength will allow you to do certain activities with less effort. Some of these exercises involve using hand weights. If you don’t have weights at home, you can use water bottles, bags of dried beans, or soup cans instead.

Man holding hand weights at shoulder height with arms bent. Arrows show him lifting weights overhead. Arrow shows him exhaling.

Shoulder Press

Woman holding hand weights at hip level, arms straight against body. Arrows show her lifting weights up by bending elbows. Arrow shows her exhaling.

Biceps Curl

Man holding onto chair for support. One leg is lifting to side. Arrow shows him exhaling.

Side Lift


Shoulder Press

  1. Stand or sit, holding a weight in each hand at shoulder level. Your palms should face forward. Inhale.

  2. Exhale as you slowly press the weights upward. Reach as high as you comfortably can. Avoid locking your elbows.

  3. Inhale while you slowly lower the weights to your shoulders. Repeat as directed.

Special instructions: _____________________________________________________

Biceps Curl

  1. Stand or sit with a weight in each hand. Keep your arms straight, very close to your sides, with your palms facing forward. Inhale.

  2. Exhale as you slowly bend your arms and lift the weights to shoulder level.

  3. Inhale while you slowly return to the starting position. Repeat as directed.

Special instructions: _____________________________________________________

Side Lift

  1. Stand straight and hold on to a sturdy chair with one hand. Inhale.

  2. Exhale as you lift your foot to the side. You only need to lift it a few inches. Keep your toes pointing forward. Hold the lift until you’re finished exhaling.

  3. Inhale while bringing your leg back to your side. Repeat as directed. Then switch sides.

Special instructions: _____________________________________________________

Leg Raise

  1. Lie on your back. Your healthcare provider or pulmonary rehabilitation team can teach you how to get up and lie down safely. A mat and pillow may keep you more comfortable.

  2. Bend one knee. Keep the other leg straight.

  3. Inhale. Then while exhaling, lift your straight leg until your knees are lined up.

  4. Inhale while you lower your leg. Repeat as directed. Then switch legs.

Woman lying on back with head supported by pillow. One knee is bent with foot flat on floor. Other leg is straight and raised up.

Note: If you’re not comfortable lying on the floor, this exercise can also be done sitting in a chair.

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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