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Keep Active Keep Well changed my life

Rick was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) 3 years ago at the age of 66. He knew something wasn't quite right when it was difficult to keep up with his friends. He shares his story.

One year I was in Devon fly fishing. It took me so long to cross the sandbanks and dunes that by the time I'd catch up to my friends, they'd already been fishing for 30 minutes! Before I knew it, the spring tide was coming back in so I'd had no time to fish. I thought this can’t be right.

I went to my doctor about it but they just said I had poor circulation. My breathlessness got worse - even taking a few steps I would get out of breath. Simple tasks like gardening would leave me worn out. I just thought I was getting older.

I just thought I was getting older

After visiting my dermatologist on a routine appointment, she was so worried about my breathlessness that she rang my GP and requested that I saw him immediately. I took a spirometry test. It was then that I was diagnosed with COPD.

I felt so scared - I had no idea what COPD was.

I felt so scared - I had no idea what COPD was. My doctor referred me to pulmonary rehabilitation (PR). So I tried that for a bit. I found the exercises quite hard though and didn’t think it worked for me. It was my nurse that suggested trying Asthma + Lung UK's Keep Active Keep Well (KAKW) programme. So I decided to give it a go. 

I thought the course was excellent! We did theory and exercise. I’ve now learnt how to deal with my COPD better, and I’m not as anxious about my condition. I feel like I know how to manage it. I’ve learnt breathing techniques and how to use my inhaler correctly. I even got to try new activities like walking football which was fun!

Until Keep Active Keep Well I’d never been to the gym in my life.

I found the gym sessions were the most beneficial for me. It's helped improve my stamina and strength. And I learnt how to manage my breathlessness when exercising.

I thought that gyms were just full of bodybuilders lifting heavy weights. But after doing the KAKW programme, going to the gym isn't a problem anymore. I’ve even met new friends who are in a similar situation to me. I now go to the gym most days for an hour or so!

Since doing the course I feel like I can do more than I did before. I’ve even seen an improvement in my lung function test.

Want to improve your breathlessness like Rick? Find out how you can keep active with a lung condition.

Read our keeping active information


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18 June 2018