Knowledge of the respiratory system and pulmonary function is fundamental for training the client with chronic conditions known as pulmonary disorders. These disorders are characterized by airflow obstruction, cardiovascular and muscular impairments, abnormalities of gas exchange, and psychological issues including fear and embarrassment that often accompanies shortness of breath. Properly done exercise can improve musculoskeletal and psychosocial factors that limit clients with pulmonary disease.
- It is important to do a longer warm up and cool down for clients with asthma, COPD, and other respiratory issues.
- Choose an appropriate, lower demand cardiorespiratory activity for beginner or compromised clients such as cycling or walking. Switch to a lower demand exercise during periods of respiratory condition flare ups.
- Teach the client proper breathing techniques. There are breathing exercises such as “Pursed Lip Breathing” or “Diaphragmatic Breathing” that help with shortness of breath and the anxiety, fear, and embarrassment that may be present.
- Do not use continuous overhead arm work. This can cause the client fatigue by making the heart work harder.
- Incorporate resistance training, especially in the upper body to help improve stamina and function in the chest, upper back, shoulders, and arms.
- Do exercises in a well-ventilated area. Make sure room temperatures are not too low or too high for comfort. Be aware of humidity and the presence of allergens or respiratory irritants that may be present in the exercise area. Just opening windows during allergy season can cause an allergy or asthma attack.
The information in this article is from the FLS continuing education course “Respiratory Rescue” by Soraya Cates Parr.
For more information about working with clients with chronic disease, see the Fitness Learning Systems Chronic Disease and Exercise Specialist Certificate Program. Specialize and become recognized as a medical fitness professional. Fitness Learning Systems is an IACET accredited continuing education provider.