Benefits of Walking. What Every Person with a Lung Condition Should Know and How to Get Started.
I get asked by my patients all the time, “what is the best exercise I can do for myself?” I look at our sea of equipment and my honest opinion is walking. Walking is critical to our longevity. It is the primary exercise that I encourage my patients to do each and every visit. Here are some reasons why I encourage anyone with a lung diagnosis to walk each and every day:
- Walking is low impact weight bearing exercise that is easy on the knees. Weight bearing exercise has shown to increase bone mass and helps to prevent osteoporosis.
- Walking can help you lose weight.
- Walking helps you reduce stress.
- Walking increases blood flow to help prevent and reduce back and joint pain.
- Walking reduces risk of illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.
There are a few things that I recommend to any lung patient before starting to exercise.
1. Check with your doctor first to make sure there is no reason why you can’t walk on your own.
2. Use your “rescue” inhaler to prepare your lungs for walking. This may allow you to walk a little longer or recover from your breathlessness faster than if you had not prepared your lungs ahead of time.
3. Wear the right shoes. I do not recommend walking in flip flops, clogs, or sandals. Supportive, well-fitting shoes can prevent falls and cushion the foot and knees as you walk.
4. Pace yourself. Don’t shoot out of the gate with a brisk pace. Take your time and develop an endurance that will eventually have you walking for 30 minutes.
5. Take breaks if you need to rest. There is nothing wrong with “taking a breather” to either recover from shortness of breath or to rest your legs. Often times in Pulmonary Rehab we work with patients that can be quite deconditioned. We have found many times if we approach exercise using several shorter intervals with rest stops, eventually we can stretch each interval longer and longer until the patient feels like they can walk a longer stretch without stopping.
6. Find a place to walk indoors. When you chose to walk indoors you take away environmental factors that can cause you to be breathless like air temperature and humidity.
7. Use breathing techniques that help you when are you breathless. ie Pursed-lipped Breathing or Diaphragmatic Breathing