Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) affects 1 in 7 Australians over the age of 40. Whilst not everybody who has a lung disease has smoked tobacco it is important to note the effect of smoking on your lung health. Sixty nine of the seven thousand chemicals in tobacco smoke are directly linked with causing cancer. Smoking tobacco can cause lung, throat, mouth, tongue, voice box, and oesophageal cancer; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; emphysema; chronic bronchitis; tuberculosis; and faster decline in lung function.

Furthermore if you are a tobacco smoker research suggests that you are at an increased risk of developing chronic pain disorders including back pain (Shi et al, 2010). Research shows that smoking can increase your pain which in turn can increase your smoking (Dietre et al. 2011).  If you would like help to quit smoking you can seek help from your GP, call Quitline on 13 78 48.

Exercise and ceasing smoking are both associated with improvements to your lung health. Many people with COPD feel that exercise could worsen their condition but the opposite is true! It may be overwhelming to consider exercising when you experience breathlessness even at rest. However your breathlessness will tends to worsen when we stop engaging in physical activities and our bodies become deconditioned. This creates a downward spiral which will further limits the activities we are able to perform.

Regular, targeted exercise can improve your ability to perform everyday tasks, reduce your breathlessness, clear mucus from your chest, increase your independence and reduce your hospital admissions. Exercise can also improve other areas of your fitness including balance, bone health, strength, endurance, weight management and your mood.

If you have COPD it is beneficial to engage in aerobic training 3-5 days per week. This can include walking, cycling, rowing, swimming or seated aerobics. It is also recommended that you engage in strength and endurance training 2-3 days per week. Recommended strength training exercises include functional activities like stair climbing and squats as well as using resistance bands, free weights and weight machines. Flexibility and balance training should be engaged in 2-3 days per week and can include stretching and modified yoga. Just be sure to get clearance from your GP or respiratory specialist prior to starting an exercise program.

Engaging in a supervised exercise program has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of being admitted to hospital. The exercise physiology team at Melbourne Osteohealth are able to help you manage your COPD with a targeted exercise program so why not give us a call today, we’d love to help you feel good again!

happy senior couple sitting on fitness balls


  1. Lung Foundation Australia (2018)
  3. Ditre, J. W., Brandon, T. H., Zale, E. L., and Meagher, M. M. 2011. Pain, Nicotine, and Smoking: Research findings and mechanistic considerations. 137(6). 1065-1093. Doi: 10.1037/a0025544
  4. Shi, Y., Weingarten, T.N., Mantilla, C. B., Hooten, M., Warner, D. O. 2010. Smoking and Pain.113 (4). 977-92
  6. COPD Foundation
  7. Garvey, C., Bayles, M., Hamm, L., Hill, K., Holland, A., Limberg, T. and Spruit, M. (2016)Pulmonary Rehabilitation Exercise Prescription in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Review of Selected Guidelines.Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention (36:2) 75-83. DOI: 10.1097/HCR.0000000000000171
  8. Jenkins, A., Gowler, H., Curtis, F., Holden, N., Bridle, C., Jones, A. (2018) Efficacy of supervised maintenance exercise following pulmonary rehabilitation on health care use: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. 13 257-273. DOI: 10.2147/COPD.S150650

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