Keeping active is the best thing for my lung condition
Una has lung capacity of just 32%, but that doesn’t stop her from keeping active.
For 20 years, I’ve lived with breathlessness. I was diagnosed with asthma and given inhalers. But around 18 months ago, my symptoms got much worse. I was admitted to hospital for 5 days with what I know now was a flare-up or exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) . I had my first spirometry test – I was told my lung capacity was at 32% and that it was unlikely my lungs would ever recover.
Staying active and having fun!
I’m a trained teacher of PE (physical education) and have a degree in contemporary dance, so I’ve always known how important it is to stay active. I’ve been a teacher for years and still teach to this day.
They tell me they leave feeling better and have enjoyed themselves – what more could you ask for?
Once a week I run an exercise class for over 65s. The sessions include plenty of stretching, working on joints and mobility, and exercises to help improve breathing technique. I teach people to breathe using their diaphragm and to move away from shallow breathing.
We have fun and it’s a great social environment, which is important too. They tell me they leave feeling better and have enjoyed themselves – what more could you ask for?
As well as my weekly group class, I run occasional workshops with people in their homes to help them become more active. My own lung condition helps me empathise with them: I understand exactly how they’re feeling!
Everyone should be keeping as active as they can
Having a long-term lung condition can change your outlook on life and what you think you can do. Breathlessness can create a vicious cycle – you limit your activity because you get breathless, which leads to a lack of social contact and could eventually lead to a fear of going outside. It’s all about learning how to break the cycle and how you can still lead a good life with a long-term lung condition.
It’s all about learning how to break the cycle and how you can still lead a good life with a long-term lung condition.
Keeping active in the winter
I find that winter is bad time of year for me as the cold, wet weather means I can’t get out as much. My symptoms limit what I can do cardio-wise, but I find stretching and breathing exercises so helpful for my lung condition. I was referred to pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) and now I go to a follow-up class every week. I’m also set to start another PR course in a few weeks’ time.
I may need an occasional push to keep at it and stay as active as I can. But I firmly believe in keeping active and the benefits it brings.