By Kareem Ahmad, MD, who specializes in pulmonary disease at Inova’s Advanced Lung Disease and Transplant Program
Everyone’s lung function decreases over time as they age, but those with acute or chronic respiratory conditions — such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) — experience this reduction at a much faster rate due to ongoing lung damage. This leads to difficulty breathing and shortness of breath. While damage caused by respiratory disease is irreversible, exercise and conditioning can improve lung function and help make breathing easier.
Regular exercise is important for various reasons. Since the damage from respiratory disease means you have less lung to utilize, it’s important to optimize the rest of your muscles and organs to help compensate.
At Inova Fairfax Medical Campus, we offer a Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program that is certified by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. It’s a nine-week, medically supervised education and exercise program. Patients learn exercises that can help improve cardiovascular health and endurance, allowing them to remain active longer despite the limits of respiratory disease.