Pulmonary Rehabilitation

What is Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a six – eight week exercise and education program that teaches you the skills you need to exercise safely and manage your breathlessness. The exercise component focuses on increasing your physical function and is individualised to cover safety considerations and to ensure you are on-track to achieve your goals. The education component assists you in managing your condition, by providing knowledge in areas such as breathing techniques, using your medications and energy conservation.

“The most beneficial part of pulmonary rehabilitation was gaining the knowledge to understand what was happening to me and being able to control my breathing. This in turn assisted in controlling periods of depression and anxiety as well as accepting I have a serious health condition.”

Eric, Bundaberg, lives with COPD.

What are the benefits of Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

Research shows that pulmonary rehabilitation is one of the best things you can do to improve your breathing and wellbeing. It also reduces the frequency of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) exacerbations (flare-ups) and helps you stay well and out of hospital.

An improvement in exercise tolerance is one of the main benefits of completing a pulmonary rehabilitation program. This will make normal daily activities such as showering, hanging out the washing, walking or gardening, easier. You may also find you don’t need as much help to do the things you enjoy. Exercise training is an essential part of pulmonary rehabilitation and helps to reverse the cycle of inactivity and breathlessness.

What does it involve?

Usually pulmonary rehabilitation programs run for six – eight weeks, with two exercise sessions per week. Before you start exercising, a health professional will talk to you about your condition and will ask you to do some different exercise tasks. They will then design an exercise program suited to your needs and symptoms. Once you are confident to exercise on your own, you will be given a home exercise program to do on days of the week when you are not at pulmonary rehabilitation. Some pulmonary rehabilitation programs also offer information sessions to help you self-manage your condition.

Am I eligible for a Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program?

Pulmonary rehabilitation programs are suitable for people who have a mild, moderate or severe chronic lung disease and who are limited by breathlessness. Family members or caregivers are also encouraged to attend the education sessions that may be offered in some pulmonary rehabilitation programs.

How do I join?
Each pulmonary rehabilitation program has their own referral and eligibility criteria. Lung Foundation Australia has a database of all known programs in Australia and can help you find a program close to you.
“Pulmonary rehabilitation made such a difference for me that my doctor took me off the waiting list for lung reduction surgery, and I am now back at work two days a week.”

John, lives with COPD