What are the Different Pulmonary Rehabilitation Exercises?

Patti Kate

There are various pulmonary rehabilitation exercises and techniques, including endurance training exercises and breathing exercises. Exercises designed to increase endurance and strength may involve the use of equipment, such as a treadmill or hand weights. Stationary bikes may also be incorporated into an exercise program. In most cases, walking is an integral part of a pulmonary rehabilitation exercise program. Any type of aerobic activity that increases cardiovascular fortitude may be considered a fundamental part of pulmonary rehabilitation exercises.

Pulmonary circulation is the movement of blood from the heart, to the lungs, and back to the heart again.
Pulmonary circulation is the movement of blood from the heart, to the lungs, and back to the heart again.

Pulmonary rehabilitation exercises are designed to increase the capacity of the lungs and heart as a unit. Many individuals who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may benefit from pulmonary rehabilitation exercises. An exercise program is generally recommended or prescribed by a physician, who refers the patient to a physical therapist. Pulmonary rehab exercises may also include breathing techniques.

A treadmill may be used in pulmonary rehabilitation.
A treadmill may be used in pulmonary rehabilitation.

A breathing technique known as pursed- or puckered-lip breathing is a basic type of pulmonary rehabilitation exercise. This can help the individual attain more oxygen when he has difficulty catching his breath. A trained therapist or physician can instruct the person on the proper way to perform this exercise at home.

Stationary biking is a common pulmonary rehabilitation exercise.
Stationary biking is a common pulmonary rehabilitation exercise.

Posture exercises, such as those designed to reduce slouching and stretch the pectoral muscles, may also be a beneficial type of exercise for pulmonary rehabilitation. Other breathing exercises, such as diaphragm-strengthening techniques, are sometimes done in pulmonary rehab. Although some may not view this as a standard exercise, another type of pulmonary rehab activity is known as cough reflex technique. This is where the patient develops an effective technique for coughing that requires less energy and oxygen.

Dancing is often encouraged for pulmonary rehabilitation.
Dancing is often encouraged for pulmonary rehabilitation.

Stretching exercises are an essential part of a pulmonary rehabilitation program. Stretching exercises may improve circulation and mobility in many patients. This may also help improve breathing capacity. Some therapists may recommend a series of triceps stretches in particular.

Mall walking offers protection from inclement weather.
Mall walking offers protection from inclement weather.

After stretching and proper warm up, experts recommend brisk walking as part of pulmonary rehab exercise. Outdoor walking has the added benefit of allowing fresh air to circulate the lungs. When weather prohibits outdoor walking, there are other alternatives. Not everyone has access to a treadmill or gym, but these facilities are not always necessary. A large shopping mall can be a good place to get in a brisk walk without the concern of exposure to the elements.

Dancing is an aerobic exercise often encouraged for pulmonary rehabilitation. Dancing increases the heart rate and may improve capacity of the lungs. This can be done at home or under supervision of a therapist or instructor.

Stationary bike exercises are sometimes prescribed to rehabilitate the pulmonary system.
Stationary bike exercises are sometimes prescribed to rehabilitate the pulmonary system.

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