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.
20 November 2019 is World COPD Day. COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) affects 1.2 million people in the UK, and millions more have COPD but don’t even know it.