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