COPD and Exercise

COPD and Exercise


COPD is a progressive lung disease that causes persistent airway obstruction. This can happen because of emphysema, or chronic bronchitis. A COPD sufferer will have a lot of difficulty in breathing and may have a chronic cough or wheezing. Other signs and symptoms include reduced lung elastic recoil and limitation in air flow; breathing will become much harder to do; the breathing muscles will become weak because of hyperinflation, which overly stresses these muscles; and other ventilation-related signs. People with COPD will have difficulty in emptying their lungs and impaired gas exchange in emphysema because of destruction of the alveolar-capillary membrane.

However, exercise can improve the use of oxygen, exercise (work) capacity, and can lower the anxiety level of COPD patients. Some of the direct benefits of exercise in this case include:

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The Role of Aerobic Exercise in the Management of Obstructive Sleep Apnea


Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a common condition involving an obstructed airway and impaired breathing. Frequent side effects include snoring, pauses in breathing during the night, and sleepiness during the day. There is also a significant increase in hypertension, atrial fibrillation, stroke, and coronary artery disease. The consequences can be huge, and life-threatening.

Many patients with OSA are treated with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine (CPAP), with good results. But exercise has an important role to play in the management of this condition.

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Lower Back Pain

 Lower Back Pain


Lower back pain, or LBP, is an extremely common problem. It has a  wide variety of causes, and may come on suddenly, or gradually. The pain can stem from muscles, joints, or discs. It may be as a result of sudden trauma, or be a repetitive motion injury.

 It may seem trivial to say that someone has LBP, but this common complaint can cause loss of work, a spike in use of health care services, depression, family strain, and lack of self-esteem. Imagine being in pain all the time - it's very draining.

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 Exercising with Osteoporosis


 Osteoporosis has become a part of our normal vocabulary these days; it seems we all know someone who has this significant loss of bone mass, or its precursor, osteopenia (low bone mass).

All of us experience some small degree of bone loss every year, after we’re thirty-five, but it is very common amongst older adults in industrialized countries. Once the bone begins to lose mass, it takes on a “honeycomb” appearance, and it loses its ability to withstand fracture. Seniors are much more likely than, say, a young adult, to sustain a fracture through a minor fall or even a sneeze.


More women seem to develop primary osteoporosis in their post-menopausal years, about 50-75 years old, due to the normal estrogen deficiency, and the rate of bone loss exceeds the rate of bone formation. This disease tends to show up in men in their 70’s. Secondary osteoporosis can develop because of various medications, such as ongoing prednisone (glucocorticoid) therapy.

But menopause and medication are not the only risk factors for this disease; some others are:

Low body mass index (BMI), being too thin

Not enough exercise, being sedentary


More than 3 alcoholic drinks per day

Not enough Vitamin D (helps to absorb calcium into the bones)

Taking in too much protein, caffeine, sodium and Vitamin A

Diseases such as anorexia, bulimia, celiac disease and rheumatoid arthritis (RA)


People with this disease are likely to be quite deconditioned, due to their physical limitations and fear of injury and falling. However, regular physical activity, such as walking, aerobic activity and resistance training can improve the bone mineral density (BMD) in this population. Exercise also provides significant improvements in cardiovascular health, stronger muscles, and better balance. Stronger muscles also help safeguard bone mass.


Ideally, someone with osteoporosis should consult with both a physician and a personal trainer certified in dealing with exercise as treatment for this disease. An exercise program should include:

Exercises to improve balance

Exercises for the upper and lower body, and the core muscles – adaptations in bone are site specific, so all areas of the body must be worked

Core exercises that do NOT include forward flexion or twisting of the spine, such as crunches, sit-ups, and bicycle crunches. Exercises that flex the spine forward increase the risk of fractures in the vertebrae

Exercises that limit weight bearing – doing water-based exercise, swimming, or chair exercises may be better choices than traditional exercise programs

Start with light weights and more reps; as bone mass and muscle strength improve, you may be able to progress to heavier weights and fewer reps


Your workout environment should be evaluated for tripping hazards, such as mats or obstacles on the floor. Wall railings and side rails on cardio equipment are useful in protecting you from falls. Regular physical activity, modified correctly, is crucial to dealing effectively with osteoporosis, as it is a long-term and ongoing condition.

Deb Bailey Personal Trainer - in Home (Now On-line!)
Phone: 519-572-0986
Kitchener, Ontario

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