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Archive: May 2017

NTM Lung Disease & Exercise

Posted on May 02, 2017   |   
Author: Gretchen   |   
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This blog post was written by Katie Keating, RN, MS, patient advocate

Regular exercise and self-care are the best gifts a patient with lung disease can give to him or herself. The goal of exercise is to improve quality of life through physical activity.

Exercise has a multitude of positive benefits; it improves blood circulation, helps with the exchange of oxygen as well as carbon dioxide. It improves your overall physical health, including heart health, ability to fight infection, blood sugar levels, and sleep quality. Physical activity decreases angst and depression, while improving ones energy level and the ability to be functionally independent.

Warm-up and Cool-Down consists of gentle stretching or low intensity exercise that lasts 5-10minutes prior to and after a workout. Warm ups prepare your heart, lungs and muscles for the work to be done during exercise and cools them after a workout to prevent muscle soreness or injury. The best practice is to inhale as you move into a stretch and exhale while you hold the stretch. Relax into each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat each stretch 5 times.

Aerobic exercise gets the heart and respiratory system working over an extended time and it is the best type of exercise a lung patient can do. Better endurance and less breathing difficulty allows patients to accomplish more and feel better. Examples of aerobic exercises are walking, treadmill, bicycling, stationary cycling and swimming. Frequency and consistency matter. A minimum of three days a week will be most beneficial. Chronic lung disease patients may need several breaks to get all of their aerobic work in, but endurance will build little by little, over time.

Pace is the exercise level at which the lungs can move enough air in and out while putting enough oxygen in the blood to support the exercise. It is not uncommon for patients to only be able to do a few minutes when they start. Don't get discouraged, instead set as a goal to increase your time or distance a little every week.

There was a time when I could not walk an extra block; I once had to take a cab for the last NYC block. We all know that NTM is debilitating at times. The cabbie gave me a dirty look, alluding to the assumption that I was a very lazy woman.

Strengthening exercises build individual muscles and muscle groups, and can help patients with chronic lung disease to be more functional. Light free weights, 2-5 pounds, 10 to 15 reps, three times a week, should accomplish this goal, increasing strength in the upper arms and legs. Light weights and more repetitions are better than heavy weights and fewer repetitions.


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Tags: Exercise NTM Pulmonary rehab Quality of Life
Categories: Awareness

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