Breathing Better: A Guide to Pulmonary Rehabilitation for Improved Lung Health

For many people living with COPD, pulmonary rehabilitation can be an important part of managing COPD symptoms and learning helpful techniques to make breathing easier. If you've ever wondered what pulmonary rehabilitation is and how you can access it, you've come to the right place! 

What Is Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a structured and supervised medical program for people with chronic lung diseases, such as COPD. It helps people living with COPD improve their lung function, increase physical fitness, learn techniques that make breathing easier, and provide education and support. 

What Happens During Pulmonary Rehab?
  • Tailored exercise: Pulmonary therapists help participants practice exercises that strengthen breathing muscles and improve endurance. 
  • Breathing techniques: Techniques like pursed lip breathing can help keep the airways in the lungs open and manage anxiety, which can make breathlessness worse. 
  • Education and support: Pulmonary rehabilitation programs not only connect you to healthcare professionals but to other people living with COPD! They can be an invaluable source of support and encouragement. 

Insider Tip: In episode three of the COPD Podcast, respiratory therapist Mike Hess teaches listeners how to practice pursed lip breathing: ‚ÄúYou take a breath in through your nose, you put your lips together like you're about to whistle, and then you blow out through them.‚ÄĚ 

How Can I Access Pulmonary Rehab?

Pulmonary rehabilitation sessions typically take place a few times a week for several weeks or months, depending on how much support someone needs. Your healthcare provider can help you figure out what regimen is best for you. 

Pulmonary rehab programs can be tricky for some people to access. Programs can be expensive, and if you live in a rural area, the nearest one may be far away. The good news is many pulmonary rehab programs take place online. You can find more information on the COPD Foundation website. Hear more information about pulmonary rehab by listening to Episode 3 of the COPD Podcast.