Great Exercise for COPD: Non-Cardio, No Weight Lifting

A study now shows that those with COPD do not have to engage in cardio exercise or weight lifting to improve their lung function.

The study comes from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Department of Pulmonary Medicine and Sleep Disorders, and the exercise mode under scrutiny was yoga. Yoga is not considered a cardio exercise or a form of strength training (weight lifting).

The test subjects, all with COPD, showed marked improvement after a 12 week yoga program: benefits to breathing, lung function and less inflammation.

There’s no cure for COPD, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, and it’s usually caused by smoking and can affect people in their 40s, notes the study report.

“COPD is a systemic inflammatory disease that causes difficulty breathing,” points out study presenter Randeep Guleria, MD. Dr. Guleria et al wanted to know if structured yoga sessions would have a positive effect on the level of inflammation, as well as breathing (reducing shortness of breath) in such patients.

Study Design

The 29 patients with stable COPD underwent yoga training of the following elements:

# 1. Asanas: physical postures

# 2. Pranayama: breathing techniques

# 3. Kriyas: cleansing techniques

# 4. Shavasan: relaxation techniques

# 5. Meditation

Frequency and duration: The subjects trained twice a week for four weeks under supervision. Each session lasted one hour. After this four week period, the subjects attended the yoga sessions once every two weeks, and the remaining sessions were done at home.

The final assessment after 12 weeks was centered upon breathing and lung function, status of inflammation, and the participants’ quality of life. The investigators found that all of these parameters were significantly improved.

In conclusion, Dr. Guleria states: “We found that yoga can be a simple, cost-effective method that can help improve quality of life in patients with COPD.”

Yoga is taught at many recreational centers and health clubs. I belong to 24-Hour Fitness, and every branch I’ve ever been to offers a yoga class. One need not be able to bend like a pretzel to participate in these classes. Positions and techniques are modifiable to the individual’s fitness level, and that includes any limitations from COPD.


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