Delores had been using a walker to get about, but lately she found that she just didn’t have the energy for even that, so she started using the wheelchair more and more. “What do you do at home for activity, Delores?” I asked. “Well, I knit, and I love to read, mmmm…and I watch TV. I have a lovely lazy boy lounge chair with my drinks and my medicines right next to me. I don’t really get out much anymore, it’s just too much work and I am so tired. My COPD is just getting worse.”
“It’s not necessarily your COPD that is the cause of your tiredness, but the lack of activity. You see, the less you move, the less you want to move. It becomes harder and harder, and your breathing muscles also weaken until finally it’s easier to use a wheelchair. Where do you go from there?”
“Last week”, she said, “I was so embarrassed. I had stopped to use the toilet while I was shopping at the supermarket. I got out of the electric cart and got myself into the toilet okay. When I was finished, I couldn’t get myself up off the toilet. I had to call out from the ladies’ room for someone to come and help me. It was just so embarrassing.” Delores’s face turned red just remembering that day.
That was the motivation that got Delores moving. And she did. After working on some sit-stand exercises using a pillow and initially two hands, she was able to use only one hand and finally she strengthened her legs enough to stand without using her hands at all. She was delighted. This gave her hope. If she could do that, maybe she could try moving a little more, walking a few steps. And the more she walked the more motivated she grew and the stronger her muscles became. Delores felt energized. Even her breathing seemed to improve. Two months later, she was going out with friends and even going shopping, using the cart. She decided to store the wheelchair in the garage.
There are over 600 mscles in your body. ‘If you don’t use them, you lose them.’ Exercise does not need to be an arduous ordeal. It is simply moving. Walking is a great way to awaken those shrunken muscles. If you can walk 5 minutes or even two minutes, plan to walk three times a day, maybe. When two minutes becomes easy, you will naturally add another minute or maybe 30 seconds. Maybe you simply swing your arms or march in place. And gradually, as your muscles improve you do a little more.
Of course, it’s important to keep track of your oxygen saturation numbers keeping them within the appropriate range. Stay well hydrated, and listen to your body. Some days you may do more than others. That’s ok. Your goal is to exercise at a place where you feel you are working but not exhausting yourself. And remember to purse-lip breathe.
Exercise helps take away those irritating aches and puts a bounce back in your attitude and your step. Everything works better, your skin glows, you have more energy, you sleep better, you breathe easier, you feel more upbeat, you think better. The more you move, the more you move.
Exercise is the elixir of energy, the elixir of life. Find the exercise that’s right for you.
Create the plan,
Talk it over with your doctor and,
Take that first step towards a better you.