Upper Arm Exercises benefit Individuals with COPD

Study results, recently reported in the August issue of Chest, indicate that exercises designed to strengthen the muscles of the upper arms, shoulders and chest improve the ability of individuals with COPD to perform normal activities of daily living.

The exercises involved lift weights in five differing movements, designed to activate the pectoralis, deltoids, triceps, trapezius and biceps muscles.

This study has implications for both clinical practitioners in designing pulmonary rehabilitiation programs as well as individuals in the home environment.  Increasing the strength and responsiveness of the  upper extremities and chest not only increase the strength of the extremities and chest, assisting with respiration and activities of daily living, but also increase the general energy levels of the individuals.  Fatigue was decreased significantly, as was the sensation of shortness of breath, encouraging study participants to increase their overall activity levels.

When an individual is short of breath and easily fatigued, exercise can be intimidating and difficult to initiate.  Beginning with a less taxing form of exercising, such as seated arm exercises, could assist individuals with COPD to take those steps toward regaining some measure of control of their life.  While exercise will not reverse some of the effects of COPD, it can significantly slow the progression of the disease and enhance the quality of life.

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