How to modify activity based on how you’re feeling
Kelly Prosser, Exercise Physiologist, Fluid Exercise Physiology
At this time of year, we reflect on how we can better our behaviours, including exercising. We all know that we feel better when we are looking after our health, physically, mentally and emotionally, even when living with a lung condition. In fact, we have much more to gain by being active, however when living with a chronic lung condition, being active is significantly more challenging.
The National Physical Activity Guidelines encourage all Australians to be as physically active as possible and aim towards doing 150 minutes of moderate intensity (i.e. puffing noticeably) physical activity per week. Whilst this might sound daunting, it equates to about 20 minutes each day. For some, normal daily activities make you puff, and for others the thought of puffing brings about a barrage of emotions such as anxiety and panic. The intensity of a certain task can also change with a change in your condition, season, weather, humidity and medications, just to name a few. You may notice that one day a certain task will feel easy, and another day it will feel exhausting. Your physical activity needs to be modified to reflect how you are feeling on that day, so you can still be active.
For example, if you enjoy walking but find that on bad days you can’t walk very far or fast, aim to walk to your letterbox, then on moderate days walk to the end of your street and on good days around the block. You can choose how fast you walk based on your breathing, and even if you are walking slowly, you are still doing something and putting one foot in front of the other. Whilst small amounts of activity might not seem like much, they are very worthwhile. Remember the guidelines – be as active as possible.
A good way to measure your intensity is by asking yourself; on a scale of 0 – 10 how hard am I puffing? Light intensity is 2 – 3, moderate intensity is 4 – 6 and vigorous intensity is 7 – 10.
Here are my top five tips for getting started with exercise:
- Write down the reasons you want to be more active – this will help motivate you to exercise each day.
- Discuss your suitability to exercise with your health professional.
- When starting out, aim for light intensity until you feel confident increasing to moderate intensity.
- Plan to adjust your activity based on how you are feeling, as well as scheduling when you will complete your exercise.
- Join an exercise group or class such as Lungs in Action so you can meet and exercise with people in a similar situation to you.
So remember, by modifying your activity to match your breathing, you can exercise more regularly. Being consistent is what enables more efficient breathing and gradual improvements in your ability to be active.
For more information on a Lungs in Action class near you visit lungfoundation.com.au