- A Father's Letter to the PHFriends Listserv
- A Flower For PH
- A Life of Lessons
- A Life on the Move
- A Walking and Talking Miracle
- Backpacking Through Life
- Choosing the Right Durable Medical Equipment (DME) Supplier
- Contingency Planning for C-Pap / BiPap Users
- Dark, Disturbing, but Deeply Insightful
- Do I Have To Ask?
- Exercise and Pulmonary Hypertension
- Flu Season Strategies for the PH Patient
- I Have PH. Can I take any of the PH Medications?
- In the Wee Hours
- Iron Deficiency and Pulmonary Hypertension
- Israeli PH Association Conference
- Life with Flo: The Series
- LIFE WITH FLO: The Series
- Living Life While You’ve Got It
- Living Wills: One Patient's Experience
- Living With PH and Studying Cranes
- Loose Lips Sink Studies
- Memory Loss and Pulmonary Hypertension
- Mr. Spock Speaks
- Mutterings and Musings on Being a Patient
- My best friend, Jean
- My Nightmare and PH
- My Story
- Myriam's Story
- Navigating the Benefits Maze
- Navigating The Health Care Super-Highway:
The anxieties of a consumer-oriented hospital system
- New Dietary Guidelines for 2010 Released - Changes that may affect you
- Pumpless in Colorado
- Random Thoughts
- Sarah of the Moment
- Single Parenting with PH
- Sinus Problems? Here's One Solution (no pun intended).
- The Canadian Medicare System - An Overview
- The Courage to Change the Things I Can
- The Emotional Side of PH
- The Hill, a poem
- The Lighter Side of PH
- The Way It Was, The Way It Is
- When the Insurance Company Says “NO”
Exercise and Pulmonary Hypertension
By Cheryl Switzer
If you’ve searched the Internet for advice about exercising and pulmonary hypertension, you probably have not found much. There is a very simple reason for this. There is no such thing as a standard PH patient and therefore no “one size fits all” exercise plan appropriate for everyone.
In general, gentle or moderate regular exercise for stable PH patients is beneficial to everyone, including those with severe pulmonary hypertension. Toned muscles utilize oxygen more efficiently than flabby muscles. Also, prolonged periods of inactivity can lead to depression. But perhaps the most compelling reason for people with PH to adopt a regular exercise program is an expected improvement in their PH symptoms.
Before you jump on that treadmill, you do need to discuss your activities with your physician BEFORE you begin a program. You should not be exercising if you are a new PH patient with a disease that is not yet stable and/or controlled.
In their article Exercise Training in Pulmonary Hypertension - Implications for the Evaluation of Drug Trials, John H. Newman, MD and Ivan M. Robbins, MD of Vanderbilt University describe their findings in a study to compare the benefits of a carefully monitored exercise program with that of various PH medications for a group of thirty patients. The findings of the study were surprising. The authors summarize it this way, “This is an important study that shows that exercise training can have an impact on short-term functioning and well-being in selected patients with PH that is equal to the best current drug therapies.”
Here are a few tips to ensure your safety and a positive outcome in getting off that couch:
- Discuss your limitations and capabilities with your PH specialist. Talk to your doctor before you begin exercising to learn what you should and should not do to improve your exercise tolerance.
- Start slowly. If you’ve been a couch potato for years, it will take time to build up your stamina. Don’t be impatient.
- Avoid some activities. You do not want to work your upper and lower body at the same time (e.g.. a rowing machine). Lifting small weights to strengthen your upper body is fine and leg lifts are fine, just don’t do them at the same time. Your doctor may also probably tell you to avoid exercise that requires your arms to be raised over your head as this makes the heart work harder.
- Don’t push yourself too hard. You never want to exercise to the point where you are too short of breath to speak, experience chest pain, or feel light-headed or dizzy.
- Don’t be alone when you are getting started in your training program. It’s best to begin to exercise in a clinical setting where you can be monitored closely, but if that is not practical, make sure someone is with you ( e.g.. a family member or friend) when you are getting started.
- Avoid exercising out-of-doors if the temperature is either too hot or too cold.
- Stop exercising immediately if you begin to feel unwell.
- If you have a pulse oximeter for home use, test yourself often. Choose a pace that keeps your blood saturation in the 90’s.
Your plan does not have to be elaborate. Anything you do to get moving is a good thing. Maybe just walking the aisles of your favorite market several times a week instead of taking the store’s scooter would be a good way to begin. As the study cited above shows, exercise can be as effective as a drug and think about this: there is no co-pay either.
For Further Reading
The Best Yoga Exercises for Pulmonary Hypertension (Source: Mayo Clinic)
Primary Pulmonary Hypertension Exercise Guidelines
In The News
- November 21, 2014
- Marathoner Tells How She Deals with Exercise-Induced PH, Advocates for Early Diagnosis
- October 24, 2014
- New PAH Research Highlights Effect of Disease on Muscles, Importance of Exercise
- July 12, 2014
- Depression Can Hinder Pulmonary Rehab
- June 25, 2014
- Yoga exercise program tailored for pulmonary hypertension patients
- May 9, 2014
- Exercise tolerance, lung function abnormalities, anemia and cardiothoracic ratio in sickle cell patients.
- January 27, 2013
- Oral Treprostinil Improves Exercise Capacity in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
- August 6, 2012
- Exercise Could Decrease Depression Among Heart Failure Patients: Study
- August 2, 2012
- Exercise Training Improves Quality of Life...
- May 23, 2012
- Physical Activity Limitation as Measured by Accelerometry in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
- March 11, 2012
- Exercise Helpful but Not Harmless in Pulmonary Hypertension
- March 8, 2012
- Overweight People May Benefit From Active Breaks During Prolonged Sitting
- February 28, 2012
- Safety and Efficacy of Exercise Training in various forms of Pulmonary Hypertension
- September 12, 2011
- The Impact Of Exercise On Those With Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension?
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