Online Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Why Bother Exercise with a Chronic Respiratory Condition

Individuals living with a chronic lung disease are, in many cases, prone to the cycle of inactivity. This develops because an individual often experiences the symptom of breathlessness during activity and in severe cases, at rest. As a result, individuals will avoid activity that makes them feel out of breath. Doing less activity can have several negative consequences such as decreasing cardiorespiratory function, loss of bone mass and muscle, and more severe symptoms of breathlessness. The vicious cycle of inactivity then continues, and it becomes difficult for individuals to complete daily tasks. Although it can be challenging, increasing activity levels is crucial for effective management of chronic lung diseases and could lead to improved long-term health outcomes.

Physical Activity vs. Exercise

Physical activity and exercise are used interchangeably but are slightly different terms. Physical activity includes any movement of the body done by skeletal muscle that results in energy expenditure. Examples of physical activity include gardening, walking the dog, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, etc. On the other hand, exercise is a form of physical activity that is specifically planned, structured, and repetitive. Examples of exercise include weight training, exercise classes, yoga sessions, and tai chi. You should attempt to include both physical activity and regular planned exercise to gain the most health benefits.

The Benefits of Physical Activity for Respiratory Disease

  • Physical activity can help individuals take better control over their respiratory condition and improve their quality of life.
  • Physical activity can improve circulation and help the body better use oxygen.
  • Physical activity can help reduce stress, tension, anxiety, and depression.
  • Sleep quality can improve, and make you feel more relaxed and rested.

The Benefits of Exercise for Respiratory Disease

  • A properly designed exercise program can improve muscular strength and endurance, respiratory symptoms, and exercise capacity.
  • Exercise boosts energy levels so you can do more activities without becoming tired or short of breath.
  • Sleep quality improves with regular exercise.
  • Exercise releases endorphins – the “feel good” hormones.
  • Regular exercise may reduce the progression of underlying disease(s), comorbidities, and exacerbations.
Online Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Physical Activity Guidelines

The current physical activity guidelines for individuals with a chronic respiratory disease, as reported by the American College of Sports Medicine, recommends a minimum of 150 minutes each week of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic physical activity. Examples of moderate intensity physical activity include brisk walking, slow dancing, sweeping the floor, or vacuuming, whereas vigorous intensity includes running, swimming, jumping rope, etc.

The 150 minutes/week can be accumulated in bouts of 10 minutes or more for those unaccustomed to exercise. However, 30 minutes of continuous physical activity is preferred. The guidelines also recommend muscle and bone strengthening activities, using major muscle groups, at least 2 days/week. Additional balance/stability training and flexibility training is also recommended. 

What is Sedentary Behaviour

Contrary to physical activity is sedentary behaviour. Sedentary behaviour refers to certain activities in a reclining, seated, or lying position requiring very low energy expenditure. Common sedentary behaviours include screen time such as watching TV, playing video games, and computer use. Driving and reading are also considered sedentary behaviour. It is possible for someone to achieve the recommended amount of physical activity and still accumulate substantial sedentary time throughout the day. An individual’s amount of sedentary behaviour is an independent predictor of metabolic risk even if the physical activity guidelines are met.

Prolonged and excessive sedentary time is associated with several health risks, including:

  • Obesity
  • Glucose intolerance
  • Type II diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Premature mortality
  • Declining physical and cognitive functions
  • Reduced mobility
  • Frailty

We should all try to reduce our sedentary behavior throughout the day. Here are some tips we can all follow

  • Take regular breaks from sitting.
  • Breaking up periods of prolonged sitting every 15-20 minutes with bouts of activity as short as 90 seconds has been shown to significantly improve metabolic health and better cardiorespiratory fitness.
  • Frequently change positions throughout the day. 


Ask your doctor or health care provider if exercise is right for you. Although there are risks to exercise, in many cases the benefits far outweigh the risks. To make exercise safe and to achieve maximal benefits always listen to your body!

Get Active with iMaster Health, Friends, & Family!

If you or a loved one are living with a chronic respiratory condition, join the iMaster Health Online Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program to receive comprehensive exercise training, breathing techniques and education tailored to your lung condition and physical abilities. Improve your lung health today! Why Wait? It’s FREE! 

Interested in supervised exercise training? Join the iMaster Health 8-week Lung Workshop! You will work with an experienced rehabilitation specialist to strengthen your respiratory muscles and improve physical function. Book a complimentary consultation to get started!

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Pulmonary rehabilitation helps ease respiratory symptoms, improve physical and psychological well-being, and increase disease management. Please discuss your decision to begin online pulmonary rehabilitation with a doctor or health care provider.

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