Pulmonary Rehabilitation Benefits

Here is a good article on the 10 Benefits of Pulmonary Rehabilitation.

By John Bottrell, RRT

Most COPD guidelines recommend completion of a pulmonary rehabilitation 
program for anyone with mild to moderate COPD, or anyone who 
experiences a restriction in activities due to difficulty breathing or 
other COPD symptoms. While it won’t improve lung function or cure your 
COPD, it may improve the quality and length of your life.

That said, here are 10 benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation, or 10 
reasons why completion of such a program may benefit you.

1. You’ll become educated about your disease. You’ll learn the 
importance of quitting smoking and receive some tips on how to quit. 
You’ll learn the basics of your disease and how to manage yourself on a 
daily basis. You’ll learn how to manage flare ups and when to call for 

2. You’ll learn about COPD medicine. You’ll also learn about the 
medicines used to prevent and treat COPD symptoms. You will learn about 
inhalers and nebulizers and may even be asked to demonstrate that you 
are using them correctly.

3. You’ll learn the importance of staying active. You’ll learn that 
daily exercise is important, even if it entails a simple walk through 
the house. You’ll learn what exercises are best for you, and how to use 
the equipment safely. Exercise helps boost your immune system to keep 
you healthy, and reduces your fatigue so you can stay active.

4. It improves your sense of well-being. COPD has been linked with 
depression. Exercise causes your brain to release chemicals called 
endorphins. They are often referred to as “exogenous morphine” because 
they act similarly to morphine in reducing the perception of pain and 
improving your sense of well-being. Exercise may actually be the best 
way to prevent and treat depression so you continue to feel good about 
yourself and your life.

5. It reduces the feeling of dyspnea (air hunger) with movement. Part 
of exercise training may entail riding a stationary bike. This helps to 
strengthen your heart so it becomes more efficient at pumping oxygen 
and other nutrients throughout your body. This helps to make you more 
dyspnea tolerant, or less likely to feel winded when you exert yourself. 
So you should be able move around and stay active for longer periods of 

6. Helps you keep up your strength. When you don’t move around for fear 
of getting winded, this can cause muscle wasting that makes it even 
harder to move around. A key part of pulmonary rehab is using light 
weights to provide resistance training to the muscles of your arms and 
legs to help you maintain the muscle strength you need to stay 
physically active.

7. You’ll learn healthy eating habits. Not eating a healthy diet may 
also lead to muscle wasting. Since some foods and large meals may cause 
gas and bloating that makes breathing difficult, some resort to poor 
eating habits. Nutrition counseling teaches you what foods you can eat 
to assure you’re getting the nutrients you need to keep up your 
strength and endurance. It also teaches healthy eating habits, such as 
light meals more frequently, so you can breathe easy and stay active.

8. Psycho-social support. Along with the wonderful experts helping you, 
you’ll meet other people living with it just like you. These encounters 
sometimes lead to friends who may offer you emotional, spiritual, and 
motivational support you need as you make the necessary lifestyle 
changes to adjust to living with a chronic lung disease.

9. Helps keep you out of the hospital. Studies show pulmonary 
rehabilitation reduces hospital admissions and readmissions. One theory 
suggests that it slows the progression of the disease, making flare-ups 
less frequent and less severe.

10. It may help you live longer. Quitting smoking is the single best 
thing you can do to slow the progression of your disease. Wearing 
oxygen as prescribed, if prescribed, is also proven to prolong life. 
While studies are inconclusive, some seem to suggest that completion of 
a pulmonary rehabilitation program may also slow progression of your 
disease so you can breathe easier, live better, and live longer with 

Studies continue to pour in that indicate even greater benefits. 
Studies show benefits even for those with mild COPD, or with no 
exercise limitation. Studies show that the longer the program the 
However, studies also show that these benefits are not long lasting. 
For this reason, most doctors recommend to those who have completed a 
program, or who cannot participate, exercise at least 20 minutes every 
day, even if it entails a simple walk.