Breathe Better With COPD - National COPD Awareness Month

More than 16 million people in the U.S. are living with COPD. Millions more likely have the disease but don’t know it. Symptoms can be mild at first and get worse over time.

“Some people with COPD get very short of breath when they try to walk, or do any kind of physical activity,” says Dr. Janet Larson, who studies COPD at the University of Michigan. “Some are bothered by persistent coughing.”

Dr. Larson discusses her team's study, testing a program to build light physical activity into the daily lives of people with COPD with NIH News in Health. 

Light physical activity—such as walking and using bands for strength exercises—can improve their health and energy levels, she explains.

By making exercise more accessible, “we hope that if they have a flare-up of their disease, and have to quit being active for a while, that they’ll be able to get right back to it on their own,” Larson says.

In an early study of the program, people with COPD increased their activity levels by more than half an hour a day.

Read more about living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease from Dr. Larson and other experts in NIH News in Health