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What is Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a program for people with chronic lung conditions that uses exercise and education to put you in charge of your breathing, instead of your breathing being in charge of you. When you are short of breath, you may think that there is nothing you can do but take medicines. This is not true!

Pulmonary rehabilitation, also called pulmonary rehab or PR, is a broad program that helps improve the well-being of people who have chronic (ongoing) breathing problems.

PR doesn't replace medical therapy. Instead, it's used with medical therapy and may include:

  1. Exercise training
  2. Nutritional counseling
  3. Education on your lung disease or condition and how to manage it
  4. Energy-conserving techniques
  5. Breathing strategies
  6. Breathing strategies
What to expect with PR

PR involves a long-term commitment from the patient and a team of health care providers. The PR team may include doctors, nurses, and specialists. Examples of specialists include respiratory therapists, physical and occupational therapists, dietitians or nutritionists, and psychologists or social workers.

When you start PR, your rehab team will create a plan that's tailored to your abilities and needs. You'll likely attend your PR program weekly. Your team also will expect you to follow your plan, including exercises and lifestyle changes, at home.

Why exercise when short of breath?

Research in pulmonary rehabilitation has shown us that if you have chronic lung problems and you exercise, you will feel less short of breath and be less tired (fatigued). You most likely will also feel stronger and more independent in your everyday life. Other benefits you may have from exercising are a better quality of life, with less depression and anxiety. You will also notice that you will have the breath, to enjoy the things in life that are important to you. Research has also shown that people with chronic lung conditions who exercise, feel better and if they are hospitalized, are admitted for a shorter period of time than those who don’t exercise.

PR has many benefits. It can improve your ability to function and your quality of life. The program also may help relieve your breathing problems. Even if you have advanced lung disease, you can still benefit from PR.