Tips on Exercising with an Oxygen Concentrator
Only 20.6 Americans meet the recommended amounts of exercise according to this survey. This shows that a whopping 80% do not get the recommended amount of exercise. Just over 12 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD, many of whom are on oxygen. Exercise is important for everyone but for slowing the progression of COPD and maintaining lung function, it is absolutely essential.
Exercise is a great way to sustain and improve health and fitness. It helps to build strength and energy while maintaining your weight. There are also a number of other advantages when it comes to exercising:
- Helps Lengthen Lifespan
- Improves Memory and Brain Functions
- Great for Bones and Muscles
- Endorphins Released Improves Mood
An oxygen concentrator helps deliver purified oxygen to patients that need it, and are used as a safer and convenient alternative to compressed oxygen tanks. Patients who require oxygen concentrators are those that have a condition that results in low levels of oxygen in their blood. Such conditions include COPD, pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency and other respiratory conditions.
Oxygen is vital and essential for all major body functions and without it, the body is unable to absorb crucial nutrients and the heart and brain suffers. The most oxygen dependent tissue in the body is the brain. Just a few seconds without oxygen will cause you to faint. Oxygen also helps to ferry essential components through the bloodstream.
Speak to your Doctor
Patients suffering from low levels of oxygen in their blood are treated through oxygen therapy, where oxygen is provided through tanks or concentrators. Many patients undergoing oxygen therapy have a misconception that their oxygen concentrator equipment holds them back when it comes to exercise. You will need to discuss any exercise regimen with your doctor or physical therapist, but they will likely be encouraging of any physical activity. Your doctor helps you to determine what may be too intensive and advises you about which exercises can help you depending on your condition.
Challenges of Exercising with a Portable Oxygen Concentrator
Naturally, when we are exercising, there is a tendency to take in shorter breaths, limiting the amount of oxygen we are taking in. Oxygen concentrators are used to make the flow of oxygen more consistent. Many athletes are known to use oxygen concentrators to aid in increasing their performance. The consistent flow of oxygen helps reduce the unwanted side effects after an intense workout, fatigue, and sore muscles. Firefighters are also known to regularly detox levels of carbon monoxide using oxygen concentrators after fighting a fire.
Ensure Your Concentrator is Working Properly
Portable oxygen concentrators give the patient freedom and independence to travel, exercise, and perform other day to day activities. If given a go-ahead by your physician to engage in physical exercise, here are some tips on exercising with your oxygen concentrator;
- Have your oxygen concentrator inspected to ensure that it is in great condition and the flow of oxygen is uninterrupted during your exercise.
- The purity of the oxygen that is being provided to you must be at 90 – 95%.
- The type of concentrator you use will influence the type of exercise that you perform. Suppose, for example, you have the traditional oxygen tanks that are best used with stationary equipment, these are better with treadmills and elliptical machines. We also have the portable oxygen concentrators that can be used for walking and cycling.
- Wearing a specialized EWOT mask can ensure that you don’t lose any of the oxygen being produced as opposed to wearing a nasal cannula that is not as efficient when exercising.
Beneficial Types of Exercise
There are a number of exercises that one can do with their oxygen concentrator.
- Walking exercises – this is a simple, low impact, trouble-free exercise that you can do with your portable concentrator. You can start with short walks then advance over time. A study done in Spain showed that you can reduce the risk of hospitalization for COPD exacerbation by walking just 1.86 miles per day. A Taiwan study showed that you can add 3 years to your life by walking just 15 minutes every day.
- Tai – Chi - this is an ancient Chinese practice that combines deep breathing and relaxation with gentle flowing movements. It’s a mild workout that helps tone your muscles and also helps your heart and lungs. If your COPD makes you feel concerned and edgy, it will be of great benefit to you as it helps you to relax and take the edge off.
- Riding a stationary bike – Doing this exercise is a great choice for someone with knee, joint or back problems. With this type of bike, your arms are stationary while your legs peddle. You have the choice of peddling with resistance to make your workout a bit more challenging or you can peddle with no resistance at all to reduce the intensity.
Exercises for those with Limited Mobility
Pursed Lip Breathing
- Pursed lip breathing has been described as smelling a rose and blowing out a candle.
- Sit in a Chair with Your Neck and Shoulders Relaxed
- Breathe in Through Your Nose for 3 Seconds
- Purse Lips as if to Blow Out a Birthday Candle
- Blow Through the Mouth for as Long as You Can. Try to do it for at Least 6 Seconds
- Inhale as Deeply as You Can
- Hold for 3 Seconds
- Using Stomach Muscles Exhale 3 Times in Rapid Succession while Saying the Word Huff
- Lie on the Floor or on a Bed with Pillows Under Your Knees
- Inhale Trying to Let Your Stomach Rise, but Keep Your Chest Still
- Breathe in Counting to 3
- Purse Lips and Exhale for as Long as You Can While Counting to 6
- Straighten Back and Extend Your Neck Muscles as Much as Possible While Rotating in a Circular Motion
- Bend Elbows Slightly and Rotate Shoulders
- Sit up Straight and Raise and Lower Your Chin as Far as Possible
- Extend Your Arms Like a Bird and Move them in a Circular Motion
- Sit With Your Feet Straight Out in Front of You and Bring Ankles Toward You Several Times, Rest, Rotate Ankles in a Circular Motion
- You can invest in some barbells, kettlebells, or even use litre water bottles
- Hold Weigts with Palms Upright and Lift by Bending at the Elbow
- Hold Weights with Palms Facing and Lift Keeping Elbows Straight
- Arms at Your Side with Palms Facing Inward, Bend Elbow so Shoulder is at Right Angle
For many the word exercise just sounds like drudgery. It doesn't have to. The key to sticking with an exercise program is finding something you enjoy. Gardening, walking the dog, dancing to the radio, even if it's in a chair, it all counts! Just try to stay as active as possible! We hope these tips start you on the path to wellness and increaesed energy!