By Greg Pascucci
More than 3 million cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are diagnosed each year. November is COPD Awareness Month, and the internationally recognized observance is designed to rally, inform and enhance exposure around COPD.
For those with COPD, airflow is restricted into and out of the lungs and they often experience shortness of breath when performing everyday tasks. Though there is no known cure for COPD, lifestyle changes can improve the symptoms of the disease.
Chronic stress can negatively impact the body. People with COPD experience more flare-ups when they are agitated or anxious. Experts suggest practicing mindfulness—the act of being present in the moment—to alleviate one’s stress. Imagining yourself in a relaxed, peaceful environment through visualization can also reduce stress levels.
Practice Breathing Exercises
Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the most common conditions that make up COPD. Breathing exercises have been shown to benefit those with COPD. Documented results include better control of one’s breathing, strengthening abdominal muscles and improved quality of life. At The Carlisle Naples, for example, residents at the active retirement community recently participated in an innovative wellness program designed for those with COPD. A “Happy Harmonica” class taught participants to play the harmonica under the guidance of Glenn Basham, Concertmaster of the Naples Philharmonic.
“It’s a way that we could incorporate something for somebody who does have COPD that will enhance their quality of life, challenge them, have them step out of their comfort zone,” said Mary Beth Baxter, Zest Director for The Carlisle.
Smoking is the leading cause of COPD as it damages the air sacs, airways and lining of the lungs. It is estimated that 50 percent of smokers will develop emphysema or chronic bronchitis, often referred to as COPD. Even second-hand smoke can trigger COPD flare-ups. The COPD Foundation states that quitting smoking is the most important thing you can do to slow down the loss of lung function.
Try Water Fitness
According to an Australian study published in Reuters Health, exercising in a pool boosted physical endurance and energy levels in people with COPD. Researchers noted an improvement in stamina and the ability to complete tasks such as walking long distances. The Carlisle Naples offers Aqua Motion and AquaFIT classes each week to provide residents with a low-impact workout that yields documented health benefits for those with and without COPD.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Surprisingly, the food we eat can play a role in our breathing. For some people with COPD, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains may help them breathe easier. It’s important to consult with a doctor or dietician before making nutritional changes.
While it may seem counterintuitive to exercise if one experiences the shortness of breath associated with COPD, research shows just the opposite. Working out actually helps provide relief from COPD symptoms.
At The Carlisle Naples, there are more than 10 weekly opportunities for physical activity offered at the CARF-accredited community. From a Sunday morning walking group to golf putting and yoga, there is an activity designed to fit every lifestyle, including residents with chronic conditions such as COPD, arthritis and Parkinson’s disease.
“It’s important we encourage and motivate residents to see beyond perceived limitations,” added Baxter. “The Carlisle strives to increase residents’ sense of purpose and quality of life through fun, engaging and stimulating programming and wellness initiatives.”
Located at 6945 Carlisle Court in Naples, The Carlisle offers spacious one-and two-bedroom residences, weekly housekeeping and flat linen services, basic cable TV, all utilities except telephone, and a complimentary full breakfast plus choice of lunch or dinner in the community’s gourmet-style restaurant. For more information about the community, please call 239-221-0017 or visit www.TheCarlisleNaples.com.