Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a name that describes several different lung conditions. According to the CDC, it is estimated that more than 15-million people have reported a COPD diagnosis. That number is likely higher since many go undiagnosed. When a senior has this lung condition, it is often difficult to breathe. Even light or moderate exercise is challenging, and this impacts overall health and quality of life.

While it is important not to exert yourself after a diagnosis of COPD, exercise offers some important benefits. They include keeping the heart and lungs healthier, making it easier to utilize oxygen within the body and keeping weight off which makes it easier to live with the diagnosis. When it comes to exercising, it is always important to check with a doctor before starting a program. This is especially true for someone with COPD. If your doctor gives the green light though, these exercises offer a great place to start.

Seated Strength Training

Seated exercises with light weights help to keep muscles strong and offer some aerobics conditioning too. These exercises are easily done in a chair, or for a bit more core conditioning, use a large stabilization ball as your seat. Hold light weights in each hand. Alternately, hold a short towel between both hands. Keep your shoulders back and your back straight, and lift your arms upward from waist to about shoulder height, keeping them straight. Later, extend your arms further, even above the head for a greater challenge.


Walking is a great exercise for anyone with COPD. It is mild on the joints and easily modified for any fitness level. Make sure you have a good pair of sneakers before you begin. If you are walking outdoors, dress for the temperature. If you are indoors, make sure you understand how to properly use your treadmill. Start with short distances and moderate speeds, and increase them as you gain strength and ability. If you feel unstable, make sure someone is nearby to offer assistance and support as necessary. A friend, family member or in home caregiver is a good choice.


Yoga is an excellent choice for seniors with COPD. It is low impact and easily modified for all levels of fitness. Because of the breathing component, it helps seniors learn how to take in more oxygen and is also good for mental health. Simple poses include standing mountain pose, downward dog, seated forward bends and standing back bends. While yoga is ideal for anyone, getting the posture and breathing right is important. Therefore, it is advised to work with a physical therapist or trained yoga instructor when starting this exercise program.

Water Aerobics

Aerobic exercises involve moving muscles in a rhythmic manner that builds strength and endurance while enhancing lung functioning. When it comes to aerobic exercises that are safe and effective, one excellent choice for seniors with COPD is water aerobics. Easier on the joints than many other forms of exercise; water aerobics classes are easily performed in shallow or deep water, with or without weights. In the summer, this form of exercise can get you outdoors and enjoying some sunshine. In the winter or on cooler days, it is easily performed in an indoor heated pool. Make sure the water temperature is comfortable, and work with a professional trainer to stay safe and get the most out of your program.

COPD is a condition that limits quality of life for some individuals. However, taking proactive steps to stay healthy helps to change this and curb many of the side effects associated with this illness. Exercise is an important component in this. See your doctor, consider working with a physical therapist and make sure you have the right support available when starting your exercise program. Salus Homecare Los Angeles is here to support you. Just let us know how we can help.

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