Keeping active with a lung condition

What activities could I do?

There’s no single activity that’s best for everyone. Choose activities you enjoy and think about what’s the right level for you. For more information about useful organisations, visit our support information

Activities in daily life

There are many ways to be more active in day to day life. For example walking up stairs, doing housework, gardening, walking your dog, or playing with your children or grandchildren. Break up periods of sitting by walking around when you’re on the phone or during TV advertising breaks. Try getting off the bus one stop early, or walking to the shops if you usually go by car. If walking there and back seems too much, walk there and get the bus back.

Structured activities

There are lots of structured activities which can help you increase your activity levels:

If you’re worried about starting a new activity, check with your health care professional that it’s safe for you. Make sure the organisers know about your condition so they can support you.


Being active at home

Being active at home allows you to work at your own pace.

  • BLF resources: our exercise DVD and handbook support you to do simple exercise at home. Order online or call our helpline on 03000 030 555.
  • Activity DVDs, smartphone apps and online videos: These are a great way to try out different activities such as yoga, tai-chi, keep fit and dancing. Try different activities online or try a DVD or app to see if you like something. Then choose something you enjoy.
  • Couch to 5K: If you’d like to get out of the house, try this podcast from the NHS. It helps you gradually increase your activity using a walking or jogging programme.

Community activity

You might be surprised at the number of activities where you live that are suitable for someone with a lung condition:

  • Walking: Health walk programmes across the UK offer free, short, local group walks. Your health care professional may know about suitable walking groups in your area.
  • Local facilities: Local authorities, gyms, community halls and schools offer chances to use their facilities or try out activities like swimming, yoga, tai chi, dance, bowls and golf.
  • Walking sports: Walking sports are less strenuous than traditional versions. Aimed at people over 55 or those with a long-term condition, they’re a social and flexible way to take part in sport. You could try walking football, netball, cricket, hockey and more.
  • Singing: Join your local singing group. Singing can help breathing and wellbeing. It exercises breathing muscles and builds stamina through vocal exercises and songs. 

Join your local Breathe Easy support group! Groups offer friendship and support, and some also arrange exercise and singing classes. 


Specialist exercise classes

If you feel you need more support, physical activity specialists can help. Some have respiratory knowledge and run classes like BLF Active. Others are trained to support people with long-term conditions and work on exercise referral schemes.

BLF Active

BLF Active helps people with lung conditions access exercise tailored for them. It gives people finishing pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) a way to continue exercising safely, and provides safe exercise classes for people who can’t get PR. Find your closest group or call our helpline on 03000 030 555.

‘Instead of antibiotics every seven to eight weeks, I have gone 18 months without needing any since starting BLF Active exercise’ Mary

Exercise referral schemes

These schemes allow GPs and other health care professionals to refer patients to specialist activity instructors. You’ll get close supervision from a specialist instructor either one-to-one or in a group. Ask your health care professional about exercise referral schemes in your area.

“I feel better than I have done in years”

Natalie was diagnosed with sarcoidosis when she was 30.

“I was relieved to have a reason to explain the symptoms that had taken me to A&E. But I knew little about my condition or what it meant for me.

I remember it took me an hour to get out of bed one morning before I was admitted to hospital. It was hard coming to terms with the fact that this condition would impact my life. I hit a real low. I was exhausted.

A turning point came when I was recommended to go to classes designed to get people with lung conditions into exercise. I felt nervous as I wasn’t in a good place. My doctor had just referred me to the psychiatrist. She thought I had depression.

I was shown breathing techniques and the staff were really good about making it your choice of how to be active.

I’ve gone from darkness to light. It’s helped me combat depression and brought back my ability to be active. And I’m now back at work, after having to quit my job because of my condition.”


Pulmonary rehabilitation or  PR

Pulmonary rehabiltation is designed for people who are severely breathless. It's made up of:

  • a physical exercise programme, designed for people with lung conditions and tailored for you
  • information on looking after your body and your lungs, and advice on managing your condition and your symptoms, including feeling short of breath

Next: Pulmonary rehabilitation or PR >

Download our keeping active with a lung condition information (343KB, PDF) Order your keeping active with a lung condition information

Last medically reviewed: August 2017. Due for review: August 2020

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.