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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Should I reduce my exercise regime if I have very severe emphysema?

    I have very severe emphysema. I exercise regularly with a treadmill and exercise bike (some 7 km each day in 35 minuted). I have recently experience increasing middle to lower backpain - not all the time but especially in bed. I have read that chest tightness/ache and backpain can be attributed to strained auxiliary breathing muscles. Would it help if i reduce my exercise regime or is it something I now have to live with?
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  • 1

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    John Stevens

    Exercise Physiologist

    John is an exercise physiologist and owner of Kinetic Medicine, an Exercise Physiology practice with 5 clinics on the NSW Mid North Coast. John is … View Profile

    It's vital for the best possible management of your COPD that you continue to complete aerobic-based exercise such as walking or using a stationary bike, however, this should be mediated by trying to minimise it's affect on your day to day functioning. Firstly try and establish whether your pain is actually associated or aggravated by your participation in exercise. If so, try and modify your routine to eliminate this aggravation. If prolongued postures of either walking or using a bike are the problem try using intervals where by you exercise for a brief period using a high intensity, followed by a break where you either stop, change postures or decrease your intesity so as to minimise aggravation, Your best alternative would be to speak to your GP about a referral to an exercise physiologist near you so that they can physically assess you and establish a plan to specifically manage this back pain as well as your COPD. To find an Exercise Physiologist near you visit www.essa.org.au.

  • 2

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    Gina Mendoza

    Exercise Physiologist

    It would depend on what the exercise regime is. It depends on the program that has been designed for the person with emphysema.
    They are only going to be wanting to exercise at a light to moderate intensity anyway. Provided the exercise program is not going to put them under any physiopsychological stress, there will be no need to. If it is, then they will definitely need to reduce it.

  • 1

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    Arthur Lee

    Physiotherapist

    Arthur Lee - Cardiorespiratory PhysiotherapistAPAM, Member of CRPA National Group2014 Committee Member of CRPA National GroupRecipient of Nicole Turney Memorial Grant 2014Member of Lung Foundation … View Profile

    Retraining your breathing is an important part of pulmonary rehabilitation.

    It is common in COPD that there is a lot of air being retained in the lungs, leading to your lungs being hyperinflated.  This puts the flattens the diaphragm (your main breathing muscle) and makes it less effective in breathing, meaning your body automatically recruits accessory muscles to do the breathing (shoulders, back, chest).

    You can get your breathing assessed with your local cardiorespiratory physiotherapist.

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