Just because you’re challenged with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or another illness requiring oxygen therapy, your days of being active are far from over.

According to COPD Exercise and Activity guidelines published by the Cleveland Clinic, exercise, especially aerobic exercise, can:

  • Improve your circulation and help the body better use oxygen
  • Improve your COPD symptoms
  • Build energy levels so you can do more activities without becoming tired or short of breath
  • Strengthen your heart and cardiovascular system
  • Increase endurance
  • Lower blood pressure

Which exercise is right for you?

Here are some top recommendations for exercises that involve cardio, strength, and stretching:


It’s probably the most obvious and available form of exercise that has a positive effect on your health. It’s an activity that’s low impact, so it’s easy on your joints, bones, and muscles. It’s also seamlessly performed using your portable oxygen supply. Remember to start slow and add steps each day or week.

Stationary bike

Your exercise bike is just waiting to take a ride and it’s another activity that’s especially easy on your knees and lower back. Whether you need to be especially low impact with a recumbent bike, or want the traditional style with an upright bike, there’s definitely a solution that fits your needs.

Chair exercises

If you’re limited in mobility due to your COPD or other lung disease, there is plenty to do from a sitting or standing position. Movements like leg lifts and calf raises improve your balance and strength. Check out these video tips for chair-oriented exercises from Go4Life.

Tai Chi

This slow-motion, ancient form of exercise is a must try for those using oxygen therapy. According to WebMD, COPD sufferers who practice Tai Chi can walk longer distances and enjoy better quality of life. You’ll likely find classes available at many community centers and gyms in your neighborhood.

Please always remember these important general guidelines for exercising with portable oxygen:

  • Always check with your health care provider before starting an exercise program
  • Your health care provider can help you find a program that matches your level of fitness and physical condition
  • Be sure to include warm-up and cool down activities
  • Start slow and increase your intensity


Final tips

Making time to stay active is a challenge for all adults, not to mention those living with COPD. But there’s no question that exercise will improve the quality of your life.

Remember, exercise won’t reverse COPD or lung disease, but it will improve your lifestyle in the way you feel, breathe, and function on a daily basis.

  • Don’t push it; avoid exercise on days when you feel tired, or have difficulty breathing
  • You’ll be more effective if you make exercise a habit, so try to keep the same daily schedule
  • Keep a journal to note when you last exercised, what you did, and how it felt

Get regular exercise and you’ll quickly feel the boost to your mind, body, and spirit.