Request Appointment

Exercising with Chronic Lung Disease: Tips for Getting Started

This sheet can help you safely get started with exercise. Follow these tips at your pulmonary facility or at home.

Senior man walking in park bends over to tie shoelaces.

Preparing for Your Workout

  • Plan your workout for the time of day when you normally have the most energy.

  • Dress for comfort. Wear shoes that support your feet.

  • Use a bronchodilator if one has been prescribed. For best results, use it 20–30 minutes before exercise or any other strenuous activity.

  • Clear your lungs of mucus if needed.

  • Use oxygen if it’s prescribed for use during activity. Increase the flow rate ONLY if your doctor has told you to. (Increasing it on your own can be dangerous.)

  • Check the weather before you start. On warm or humid days, reduce your workout, rest more often, and drink extra fluids. Exercise earlier in the day, before it gets hot. If it’s cold outside or if air quality is poor, exercise indoors. Walk inside your home or in a mall.


My starting goal is ________ minutes of exercise, ________ days a week.

A Safe Workout

  1. To warm up, start with a few stretches. This gets your muscles ready for exercise.

  2. After your stretches, move on to heavier activity. Pace yourself and remember to breathe.

  3. Toward the end of your workout, decrease your effort so your body can cool down. Then stretch again. This relaxes your muscles and helps prevent soreness.

  4. Rest and relax.

Doing More Over Time

Work toward a goal of 30–60 minutes of exercise, most days of the week. Here are some ways to reach that goal:

  • Make exercise part of your daily routine. Be sure to attend the exercise sessions of your pulmonary rehab program.

  • Keep exercise interesting by doing things you find enjoyable.

  • Wear a watch and keep a diary to track your progress. Set small goals to challenge yourself.

  • Increase your workout by a little bit each week, until you’ve reached your goal.

  • Once your workouts have reached their goal length, increase intensity (how hard you work). For example, walk up a gentle slope instead of on flat ground.

To Stay Safe During Exercise

  • Follow the guidelines your health care provider or pulmonary rehab team has set for you.

  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise.

  • Keep your rescue inhaler with  you.  Use it if you need to.

  • Remember that shortness of breath is okay, as long as you can talk and are in control of your breathing. If you have increased shortness of breath, slow down. If it continues, stop and rest.


Was this helpful?

Yes No

Tell us more.

Check all that apply.

Last question: How confident are you filling out medical forms by yourself?

Not at all A little Somewhat Quite a bit Extremely

Thank You!

 Visit Other Fairview Sites 
(c) 2012 Fairview Health Services. All rights reserved.