Those suffering from COPD know very well the problems they encounter each and every day just trying to do ordinary activities like cooking dinner, washing, dishes or even basic household chores. The problem begins with shortness of breath, but as breathing becomes more difficult, you begin doing less, which simply compounds an already debilitating condition. Doctors and respiratory therapists explain that it is vitally important to get some amount of exercise daily. While COPD is a chronic condition which can and almost always does become progressively worse, there are ways in which regular activity and exercise can help to keep many of the symptoms at bay.
The Importance of the Thoracic Diaphragm
You will notice that you are advised to keep your muscles in shape and to slowly continue working on building strength. No, you aren’t going to begin a strenuous muscle building regimen, but you are going to keep them strong enough to keep you mobile. One muscle, in particular, is the thoracic diaphragm, which lines the thoracic cavity under the heart and lungs. This one muscle must be kept strong at all costs because it is essential in respiration. If you have ever sung in a chorus or had any kind of vocal training whatsoever, you have heard your director/coach tell you to “breathe from the diaphragm.” If you want to breathe better, this is the most important muscle you want to keep strong.
Why Any Exercise Can Help Strengthen the Diaphragm
Consider for just a moment what happens when you begin upping your daily activities. Even doing things like walking the beaches or boardwalks in Southern California offers more than a bit of cardio and the strengthening of leg muscles. As you walk, you are forced to take deeper breaths, which in turn gives that diaphragm a workout. If you are studying to be a respiratory therapist San Diego would be one area of the country where you could easily recommend your outpatient clients go out for a daily walk. The weather is always warm, and this is one of the easiest ways to force the body to begin taking deeper breaths. You may not be ready for Jazzercise classes just yet, but you can certainly try to walk a little farther and a little faster each day.
Better Movement of Air Helps to Clear Congestion
As you begin strengthening your diaphragm, you will notice that you begin taking deeper breaths. All that phlegm and congestion built up in your lungs will be pushed up and out. The key is to build up slowly so that your body isn’t overexerted. Your ultimate goal is to breathe better naturally, but don’t overexert or you could put too much stress on the heart muscle.
Remember the tortoise and the hare? Slowly but surely does it! Continue increasing your daily exercises as slowly as you need. Even if you are unable to walk and get around, a few upper body exercises like arm curls with very light weights can help get you breathing deeper, thereby strengthening the diaphragm as well as the muscles in your arms. The more you do, the more oxygen will flow through your body and that oxygen gives life to all your muscles and organs. Don’t let COPD win without giving your lungs a fighting chance – one breath at a time.