About three months ago, I bought a used treadmill and started exercising at home. I used to go to pulmonary rehab three times a week. As my disease has progressed, going to pulmonary rehab has become too tiring for me. Just getting there and back as well as doing all the exercises made it so I couldn’t do much the rest of the day.
Exercising at home
I talked to my doctor about my dilemma and he said to exercise two to three times a day in 20-minute increments at home and see how it went. I’m happy to say that I’m able to do this and still have some energy for other things I want to do. Exercise has helped me to be in better condition and actually has reduced the amount of supplemental oxygen I use. Before regularly exercising at home, I used 8 lpm when sitting and 10 lpm when walking. Now, I use 6 lpm when sitting and 10 lpm when walking. I feel better, too.
Exercising regularly is important for my health as well as my goal to lose the necessary weight to be approved for the lung transplant list. I’ve been told I need to lose 43 pounds. So far, I’ve lost 27, with 16 to go. Exercising at home is really helping me achieve my goal.
Treadmill is ideal
I learned how to use the treadmill in pulmonary rehab as well as from Dr. Noah Greenspan, a doctor of physical therapy who specializes in cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases. He helps patients increase their fitness level. He has dedicated his life to helping patients achieve the best pulmonary health possible, and has written a book, which I bought, called “Ultimate Pulmonary Wellness.” I have really benefited from his work and his website, which includes a lot of wonderful information and videos. Dr. Noah has devoted an entire chapter in his book to this important topic. I highly recommend you buy his book, available on Amazon or on his website. He has helped me so much! You can read Chapter 8: Treadmill 101 on his website, but it is not available for download.
Dr. Noah says: “When it comes to the single best exercise for cardiopulmonary patients, the treadmill is in a class by itself. There are several important reasons for this. First and foremost, as human beings, we need to walk. Second, the treadmill is highly controllable and customizable, meaning that you can set very specific workout parameters for speed, incline, and consequently, workload or MET level. Finally, the treadmill physically assists your walking and provides mechanical support for your breathing, thereby allowing you to maximize your overall workout.”
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So, here’s what I do: I put oxygen in a portable stroller to have next to me when I’m on the treadmill, so I can adjust it as needed. I wear an oximeter on my finger the entire time I exercise. The goal is to walk at a leveled speed so that my oxygen levels do not go below 93 percent or above 97 percent. I’ve read that most oximeter readings can be off by plus or minus 3 percent. This means a 93 percent reading on an oximeter could be anywhere between 90 and 96 percent, which are very healthy levels. The therapists at pulmonary rehab instructed me to keep my heart rate below 120 beats per minute.
I walk for 20 minutes and watch a TV show I taped. When I first started, I walked at 0.8 miles per hour on 10 lpm. Now, I do 1.3 miles per hour on 10 lpm. It is amazing to me to realize I could increase my pulmonary health, despite my lung volume decreasing recently from 48 percent to 43 percent in the last six months.
Besides exercising on the treadmill once a day, I also do tai chi and cycling with a portable pedal exerciser, each for 20 minutes. It feels good to be able to exercise, although it is a shadow of what I used to do before being diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. The reality is “some” is a whole lot better than none.
I know every patient has a different situation, and this is what works for me. Always check with your doctor before starting or changing your exercise program. I hope my column is an encouragement to you.
I’d love to hear from you!
Are you able to exercise? If so what works for you? How do you keep yourself motivated? What did you think of the idea that you can improve your fitness, even while battling this disease?
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Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.