Did you know there are many benefits of exercise for lung health, particularly if you have a lung disease? From reducing symptoms such as breathlessness to improving physical strength and gaining back independence, exercise can be life-changing.
This Exercise Right Week, an initiative of Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA), we encourage you to get moving and change your life for the better, and to experience for yourself the difference that exercise, even moderate, can make.
If you’re wondering how to get started, speak to your doctor about a referral to pulmonary rehabilitation – a specialised exercise and education program that teaches you skills to exercise safely. Once you’ve completed pulmonary rehabilitation, Lung Foundation Australia’s Lungs in Action program is a safe and enjoyable maintenance program designed to help you maintain those benefits.
The community program started more than a decade ago and there are more than 100 classes held each week across 70 locations nationwide.
Led by ESSA accredited exercise physiologists, along with exercise professionals trained by Lung Foundation Australia to support people living with lung disease, Lungs in Action classes give participants a sense of routine and self-management skills.
Classes are tailored for individual needs and suitable even if you use supplemental oxygen, like Anne, or even a walking frame, with seated options for exercises.
After completing a pulmonary rehabilitation program, Anne, who lives with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, joined her local Lungs in Action program to maintain the physical progress she had made.
Weekly classes have helped the 77-year-old become more independent – she now gets out of the house to shop, rather than doing it online. Having previously been breathless after just 20m of walking, Anne now comfortably walks up to 100m before resting. But it is the peer support and social connection which has made Lungs in Action even more meaningful.
“It is great that other participants understand what I am going through,” Anne said.
“Our connection strengthens as we are in a similar environment. Being social and openly speaking about our condition helps others understand the severity of it.”
Desley, 75, lives with bronchiectasis also revels in both the physical benefits and social connections of the classes. “The exercise program is excellent, a great combination of walking, upper and lower body exercises,” she said.
Amy Clapp, pulmonary rehabilitation coordinator and exercise physiologist for Lungs in Action at Hervey Bay and Maryborough, has seen big changes in cardiovascular fitness and strength from regular participants living with a lung condition.
“Many people come to our classes deconditioned but decide to make it a regular commitment, twice weekly,” she said. “They go from just one or two laps walking up to 5-10 laps before needing a rest.
“People who are susceptible to falls can build strength to overcome those. And most importantly, they build strong support networks.”
Lung Foundation Australia’s Lungs in Action Community Liaison Coordinator, Kristal, said physical benefits could make daily activities easier, plus the program played an “”integral role in decreasing social isolation”. Research has identified social isolation as a key concern for those with a lung condition and one that can lead to further mental health problems.
“Our classes facilitate relationships with those with a lived experience of lung disease, enhancing community connectedness and belonging,” Kristal said.
Find out more about pulmonary rehabilitation and Lungs in Action, and use our interactive map to find a class near you via our website or free call 1800 654 301. Please be aware COVID-19 regulations may affect availability of some classes.