The Role of Biokinetics in Pulmonary Rehabilitation
Pulmonary ailments refer to any condition associated with the lungs and breathing. These are often chronic syndromes which persist for life. Some of the most common pulmonary problems are:
- Asthma – inflammation and narrowing of the airways.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – progressive inflammatory lung disease.
- Cystic Fibrosis – hereditary disease affecting the lungs and digestive system.
- Bronchiectasis – a long-term condition, usually secondary to an infection where the airways of the lungs widen abnormally.
- Pneumonia – an infection that inflames one or both lungs.
- Chronic Bronchitis – inflammation of the bronchial tube.s
- Emphysema – a long-term progressive disease in the lungs that causes shortness of breath.
- Pleural Effusion (water on the lungs) – the build-up of excess fluid outside the lungs.
These diseases are often caused by environmental factors such as smoking and air pollution, but in some cases, they are hereditary. While most of these require ongoing pharmaceutical treatment, exercise as part of pulmonary rehabilitation is a functional and useful complementary treatment for lung conditions.
What is Pulmonary Rehabilitation?
This kind of rehabilitation is focussed on understanding your condition and learning to live with it. Some of the steps in pulmonary rehabilitation include learning to breathe easier through specific breathing techniques, how to safely carry out enjoyable daily activities, reducing risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and how to develop better functional lung capacity.
Education, counselling and exercise are other important parts of pulmonary rehabilitation.
Benefits of Exercise for Pulmonary Rehabilitation
While exercise might not seem like the ideal treatment for people with lung conditions, it can, in fact, have numerous advantages for people with pulmonary disorders. These are:
- Improved circulation
- Decreased COPD symptoms
- A strengthened heart and cardiovascular system
- Weight reduction
- Relief from low self-esteem, stress and depression
- Improved sleep and relaxation
In addition, exercise can result in increased energy levels and endurance, lowered blood pressure, better muscle tone, strength, balance and joint flexibility. These aspects make it easier for pulmonary patients to make the most of their exercise regime.
How Can a Biokineticist Help?
All chronic disease rehabilitation should be viewed as a multi-disciplinary event. Your GP, dietician, specialist doctor and biokineticist will work closely together to improve your quality of life by alleviating the symptoms of your condition.
Before they can assist you, a biokineticist will need to go through your medical records carefully. Next, they’ll conduct a baseline risk assessment and a functional assessment so that they can tailor-make the best exercise program for your individual needs.
A typical Biokinetics program includes supervised exercise sessions, nutritional advice, breathing techniques, lifestyle modification tips and psychological support. They’ll also teach you how to use a range of safe exercises that you can perform at home.
Exercises for Pulmonary Rehabilitation
Most of the exercises prescribed for home use will be completely safe; however, it’s essential to consult with your medical team before you try anything new. These are some of the most commonly used exercises for improving lung capacity and breathing:
- Walking either on a treadmill or outdoors
- Cycling on a stationary bike or in low-level spin sessions
- Arm curls and forward arm raises with light weights
- Calf raises
- Leg extensions
- Breathing exercises
- Chair dancing
- Tai Chi
- Water aerobics
It’s vitally important to rest as soon as you feel short of breath. The old adage, ‘slow and steady’, is particularly relevant to pulmonary rehabilitation. The ultimate aim is 30 minutes of exercise a day, but for starters, you should set-off with small one-minute sessions, increasing these incrementally as you develop the right breathing techniques and fitness.
Some of the ways to make it easier to stick to your goals include keeping an exercise journal and finding an exercise buddy to work out with.
When exercising, it’s best to breathe slowly – in through your nose and out through your mouth. If necessary, you can perform some exercises while on oxygen.
Don’t neglect to stretch your muscles before and after each exercise session and give yourself a day off if you’re not feeling up to it. If you experience coughing, wheezing or unusual shortness of breath, talk to your doctor and get immediate help if you’re battling to catch your breath, feel dizzy or experience a racing, irregular heartbeat.
Are You Ready to Get Started with Biokinetics for Pulmonary Rehabilitation?
If you would like to enhance your quality of life, speak to your doctor about a biokineticist in your area. Keep browsing our website for more information on how to make fitness a part of your life, no matter what.