A set oof lungs lifting dumbells in a gym

Pulmonary Rehab for Asthma

Have you ever had the feeling that your asthma is improving, but, your exercise tolerance does not seem to have improved with it?

I have been grateful for the daily walks and bike rides that I have been able to get in however, I want to go farther and faster. I feel like others are passing me by. Literally, on a recent walk an elderly couple I swear was going to do laps around me in the park trail. I have learned to take these moments in stride, but, I was hopeful that a new medication regimen was going to greatly improve these encounters.

It has certainly helped, however, I still feel like I have a ways to go in getting to the fitness goals that I would like to get to. At first, I thought it was the recent heatwave that was slowing me down, then I realized that it was just me. I am grateful that I have been able to do some form of physical activity every day. But, I would like to better develop my endurance and speed. While I don’t believe that I have any marathons in my future, I do still have a bucket list cycling trip on my mind and I would like to get to that goal.

My specialist suggested pulmonary rehab

I have had a discussion with one of my specialists who suggested that I add pulmonary rehabilitation to my regimen. It had been recommended before, however, we also wanted to allow a different medication to work. I am hoping that we will revisit this idea in my next follow-up. I would like to improve my exercise capacity.  Have you participated in pulmonary rehabilitation for your asthma? I would love to hear about your experiences.

What is pulmonary rehab?

Pulmonary rehabilitation programs incorporate exercise, education, and behavior modifications that are designed to improve functioning and quality of life.1 I am hoping that a program that focuses on improving my ability to exercise will help me get over this hurdle. Pulmonary rehab is thought to have the following positive effects on patients:1

  • Improving exercise capacity
  • Quality of life
  • Reduce wheezing, anxiety, depression, and bronchial inflammation

Pulmonary rehabilitation programs usually encompass elements of education, exercise training, breathing retraining, and psychological support.2

Education components may incorporate information on disease self-management, inhaler techniques, self-management tools, and disease information. These tools are customized to help you maximize your quality of life. These sessions are often lead by asthma educators and can help patients understand and take significant roles in their disease management.3

Exercise training programs are considered the key component of pulmonary rehab and can include a combination of endurance and strength programs. These programs are highly tailored to the patient and begin with cardiopulmonary or field tests to determine starting points.3

These programs may also incorporate breathing techniques, breathing retraining, and lifestyle coaching, which may include nutritional and weight management strategies and techniques. The addition of psychological counseling may also be helpful. It is important to note that further research is needed to further identify the specific strength and endurance training components that can benefit asthmatic patients. The majority of research to date has been in COPD, but, the data is very supportive of the pulmonary rehabilitation role for asthma patients.

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