What is Pulmonary Rehab?
Pulmonary Rehabilitation (PR) is a program of educational classes and supervised exercise sessions for people with chronic breathing difficulty.
PR can benefit people diagnosed with COPD (chronic, obstructive pulmonary disease), pulmonary hypertension, interstitial lung disease, and other chronic pulmonary disorders.
PR is designed to help you better understand your breathing, learn how to live better with your condition, and improve your strength, stamina, and endurance. PR will likely reduce your shortness of breath (breathlessness), improve your feelings of low energy, and increase your ability to exercise and stay active.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation can help you realize some or all of the following health benefits:
- Decrease shortness of breath/breathlessness
- Increase exercise capacity
- Increase energy and stamina
- Improve feeling of well-being
- Decrease feelings of depression and anxiety
- Increase ability to do things in life that you need and want to do
- Communicate more effectively with your healthcare team
- Connect with other people with similar breathing problems
- Increase your ability to manage your own lung problems in collaboration with your healthcare team
How Does Pulmonary Rehab Work?
A major symptom associated with chronic breathing disorders is shortness of breath. Many people actually avoid daily activities and exercise because it causes shortness of breath. Yet, limiting activity and avoiding exercise then causes people to be "out of shape", or deconditioned. Deconditioning places more demand on the lungs and heart, which in turn causes more shortness of breath during the activity, making it hard to be active.
In PR, educational classes will help you better understand and manage your breathing problem, and supervised exercise classes will gradually help you be more active and “get in shape” – so that you can complete your daily activities and exercise more easily with less shortness of breath.
The educational classes are designed to help you understand your breathing and learn how to manage and live better with your condition. They also serve as a forum to ask questions and discuss topics that arise when dealing with a chronic condition. These classes also allow you to speak with others with similar lung problems and get useful tips from them.
Some people become depressed and/or anxious with a chronic disease. PR has been shown to decrease these feelings as you become more physically fit, learn more about your condition, and speak with others.
The exercise sessions are designed for your specific needs and abilities. Prior to starting the program, you will be evaluated to find out the best and safest exercises for you. Reports from PR programs worldwide have shown that PR is safe. The sessions are supervised by trained healthcare professionals; they will monitor you as you exercise and ensure you are safe.
PR is a complement, not an alternative to, existing medical therapy such as inhaled or pill forms of medicines. In the United States, individuals enrolled in a pulmonary rehabilitation program typically meet at the program site 2-3 times a week for 6-12 weeks.
Why Does Pulmonary Rehab Work?
- Learning about your specific lung problem from a team of healthcare experts, will help empower you to be a better manager of your disease in collaboration with your own healthcare team. It should also help you learn to communicate your health issues more effectively with your provider.
- Talking about your breathing problems with others who have similar problems may help you deal with the many emotions often experienced by those with a chronic health problem.
- If you feel in control of your lung problem, you may feel less stress and have a more positive outlook about your health and life.
- Individuals with breathing problems can have shortness of breath during exercise or even regular activity. Unfortunately, people try to avoid this feeling by becoming less and less active. This plan may work at first, but in time leads to a vicious circle of avoiding activities which leads to getting out of shape or becoming deconditioned. This can result in even more shortness of breath with activities. PR exercise training, interrupts this cycle and helps you get in shape and be more active with less shortness of breath.