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After COPD, pulmonary rehab changed my life

Bob is amazed at how quickly pulmonary rehab helped his COPD symptoms

Bob Heslop

I'd been a glassblower for 18 years, using my lungs daily, right up until 1980 when the trade was on the way out. I decided it was time to retrain, and started working in electronics. 

Then I started feeling a bit chesty.

I'd already given up smoking when I was 29, but I was diagnosed with asthma.

Whenever I felt a bit worse I'd use my inhaler and my symptoms would eventually steady off. I didn’t really worry about it.

But then some years later, when I was about 64 or so, I started to get really quite breathless. My work was quite active, things like dragging big commercial satellite dishes onto the roof. You can imagine how hard it was! Very strenuous, and you need quite a lot of strength to do it.

Glassblowing kept my lungs strong

I was rediagnosed with COPD. I realised that the glassblowing had probably kept my lungs strong.

My breathlessness started to get so bad, within months I was forced to go into early retirement . But when I stopped working, and wasn’t getting any kind of exercise, the breathlessness started to show even more.

I just couldn’t manage it.

Discovering pulmonary rehabilitation

It was when my garden started to suffer that I really felt I had to do something. I'd always had an allotment, but now I couldn't take care of it because of my breathlessness. It spurred me on to go and see my doctor. That was when I discovered pulmonary rehabilitation.

I got referred, and had a 6 week course. It was such a short course, but I felt so much better straight away!

It is so surprising how quickly things can change. I realised how easy it was for me to  get back into shape again. And once I started, it just got easier and easier!

Exercising for lung health

After PR, Bob can work in his garden again

I started the gym after that. 

I go to the gym three times a week now, and spend ten minutes on a bike, and a rowing machine and on a stepper. In between that I lift weights. I started out by pushing 25kg. Now I’m doing double that, in under a year!

It's made such a huge difference. 

Breathe Easy groups

I also go to the British Lung Foundation's Breathe Easy groups, once a month, which are fantastic. I recommend them to everyone. 

There’s a few lads I play darts with on Fridays in the pub, and they used to be glassblowers, like me, and have breathing problems. I convinced them to go to the Breathe Easy group, and ask their doctor for pulmonary rehab, and they say it’s smashing.

Within a few weeks, they’ve improved so much.

Starting out with PR isn’t easy. It’s the initial push to get started that’s really hard. But it was my garden in the end that helped me make up my mind, and I'm so glad I took the plunge. 

Find support near you 

Find your nearest Breathe Easy support group, or learn more about how to get pulmonary rehabilitation

Support groups near you 


I was struggling with breathing my nurse enrolled my on a pulmonary rehabilitation course , I can honestly say  I have never looked back . Of course the condition doesn't go away but you learn how to manage it. I now go to the gym twice a week also go to tai chi classes. Give it a try 

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6 April 2017