Always consult your doctor before starting any exercise. These are basic suggestions for people who have
been approved to exercise under the supervision of a doctor or pulmonary rehabilitation professional. This
is not intended as medical advice.
Its summer! The days are long and warm
perfect for being outside. If you have COPD,
walking outside may seem like more than you
can handle, but with information and planning,
it can be done! Here are some tips things
you need to know and do to walk outside
Get Ready... a few days ago to a week before your first walk:
- Ask your doctor about using a quickacting
rescue inhaler fifteen minutes
before your walk. This medicine can help
keep your bronchial airways as open as
- If your doctor has prescribed
supplemental oxygen during exertion,
ask your O2 provider to provide you with
a portable, lightweight system - make
sure you know how long it will last. Use a
backpack especially made for carrying
oxygen so the weight of the device is
distributed evenly, not pulling on one
arm or shoulder.
- Check your walking route (driving your
car) to make sure its smooth and safe.
Look for places where you can sit down
or lean if you need to take a break. Don't
get stuck somewhere with no breath left
to get home!
Get Set...on that day:
- Check your local weather report. If its a
clean air action day (formerly called an
ozone action day) or if its hot and humid,
dont walk outside. (Note: Clean air action
days can be declared by a city, county or
state, and occur when weather conditions,
such as heat, humidity and air stagnation
may cause health problems.)
- Choose comfortable clothes that breathe,
dressing in layers. Wear a lightweight Tshirt
and take along a lightweight jacket
or overshirt just in case.
- Wear supportive shoes that fasten snugly
and socks that cushion your feet and
- Use pursed-lips breathing during
exertion of any kind, especially with
walking. This helps you do more with less
shortness of breath. Keep your shoulders
relaxed and use diaphragmatic breathing,
- Start with a warm-up, going slow and
easy for the first three minutes. Never go
full out on cold muscles.
- Dont walk too far at first, even if you feel
you can do more, and no matter how
motivated you are. A muscle that may not
hurt today will tell you tomorrow that
you overdid it, causing you to become
not just sore but discouraged.
- Let's say you already know youre able to
walk for ten minutes non-stop. In this
case, walk for five minutes, turn around,
and youll get back home with breath to
- Don't walk on an empty stomach. Have a
light meal or a snack before you go out.
Carbohydrates and proteins are good. If it
is okay for your diet, peanut butter or
cheese on crackers or a peanut butter
sandwich works well. Add eight ounces
of water and you're ready to go!
- If possible, walk in a group or with a
buddy. It will keep you motivated, be
more enjoyable, and ensure help is there
if you need it.
- If you walk outside alone, walk in the
daylight and carry a cell phone. Make
sure somebody you know and trust
knows where youll be and is nearby if
you need help.
- If you have a pulse oximeter and have
been trained by a pulmonary health care
professional on how to read it, monitor
your oxygen saturation and heart rate as
You did it!
- Do cool-down stretches as directed by an
exercise specialist. Stretch just until you
feel a gentle pull. Don't bounce!
- Drink a glass of water (if your doctor has
not restricted your fluids).
- Plan your next walk according to how it
went today. Will you go a longer or
shorter distance? Make other changes?
- If you plan to increase your walking time
next time, do so by just one or two
minutes and see how it goes.
- Congratulate yourself, and relax. You