This month at the COPD Foundation we’ve talked about exercise, physical fitness, pulmonary rehabilitation (rehab), and nutrition. We’ve looked at:
Options for starting a simple exercise program if you are very short of breath and/or deconditioned (out of shape): Check in – Exercise. Try… Begin… One step at a time (copdfoundation.org).
Fueling your body with the right nutrition for weight loss or weight gain if necessary, or maintaining your current weight if it’s just right: Check in – Does it Matter What I Eat? (copdfoundation.org)
Things a caregiver, spouse, or family member can do to help their person with COPD get started with exercise and/or pulmonary rehab: Check in –How Can Caregivers Help with Exercise and Pulmonary Rehabilitation? (copdfoundation.org)
But what if you went through pulmonary rehab some time ago, and for one reason or another, didn’t keep up with it? Is it still possible to benefit from that pulmonary rehab experience—exercise, education, and support— you had months, or maybe even years ago? Yes, it is possible!
Let’s start with the educational component of pulmonary rehab. Chances are, when you started you were given a folder or packet of educational materials or a link to find them online. This would be the perfect time to get back to them and refresh your knowledge. Sometimes during pulmonary rehab, there’s so much going on, that you don’t have time to take in all the information they give you. Now would be a great time to do that!
What about exercise? If your doctor considers it medically necessary, you might be able to go through pulmonary rehab again. Medicare covers a “lifetime limit” of 72 sessions (each visit usually counts for two sessions—one exercise and one education). If your participation in pulmonary rehab did not include 72 sessions, you might be able to enroll again. If your health insurance is not through Medicare, check if your policy would cover more sessions. If you are not eligible for more covered sessions, ask the team at the pulmonary rehab you attended if they can point you to an affordable self-pay program. It never hurts to ask!
Remember to always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. When you begin, consider how important it is to go slowly and easily, actually doing less than you think you can. If it goes well, you can always ramp it up—but you can’t undo the pain after you did too much!
What about support? Check if there is a breathing support group you can attend, in person locally, or online. Participating in this will help you brush up on your COPD management skills, inspire you to exercise, and connect you with a local group, usually led by a health care professional.
Whether or not you find help in your hometown to regain pulmonary rehab benefits, you can get a new start with education, support from peers, and information and videos on exercise, right here on the COPD Foundation website.
Educational materials – free downloads or materials available for purchase from our catalogue
Exercise and breathing techniques - information and videos
COPD Foundation | Learn More, Take Action and Breathe Better – Go to “Learn more”
COPD and Exercise | COPD Foundation
The COPD Pocket Consultant Guide | Patient & Caregiver Track (copdfoundation.org)
Breathing Techniques | COPD Foundation
Support and encouragement from peers - Go to COPD360social and follow people who are exercising and using effective COPD management. Better yet, log on and start a conversation!
COPD Foundation Online Community and Support Network
Did you go through pulmonary rehab some time ago? If so, did you keep up with what you learned, or did you slip back and lose some of what you’d gained? If you’re still benefiting from your pulmonary rehab experience, what advice do you have for those who might need a boost?
Let’s talk! I look forward to hearing from you!