by Ronnenberg A

Making changes to lifestyle habits can help some people ease symptoms and improve quality of life. Here are some steps:

Quitting smoking is the best way to slow down COPD. There are many tools that can help a person stop, such as nicotine replacement products and medicine. There are also programs that teach ways to change behaviors that lead to smoking.

Regular physical activity can help with blood flow and improve the way the body uses oxygen. This can help ease symptoms. It can also promote feelings of well being.

Breathing exercises will also be needed. They can strengthen chest muscles and ease symptoms.

People who are overweight should take steps to reach or maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight causes the lungs and heart to work harder, which they are already doing because of COPD. For others, the extra work of breathing can make it hard to eat. This can lead to weight loss.

Eating a healthful diet can help. It should be low in saturated fat. It should also be rich in fruits, vegetables , and whole grain foods. A dietitian can help with meal planning and making sure a person gets the right amount of calories that they need.

Respiratory infections like the cold and flu can worsen COPD. Avoiding close contact with people who are sick can help. Getting pneumonia and flu vaccines are also important.

Extreme cold can cause the airways to narrow. Excessive heat can put stress on the heart and lungs. People with COPD should stay warm in cold weather and find ways to cool off in hot weather.

Oxygen pressure is much lower at high altitudes. This could make it hard to breathe in places that are at high altitudes and when traveling on a plane.

Breathing irritants makes COPD worse. Avoid all exposure to cigarette smoke. Try to avoid dust and fumes. Be aware of air pollution alerts. Avoid outdoor activities when the air quality is poor.

Breathing techniques like diaphragmatic breathing and pursed-lip breathing can help ease symptoms. A respiratory therapist can help a person learn these techniques.

Relaxation methods can help manage stress from having COPD. This can help ease breathing problems and make people worry less about COPD.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). American Lung Association website. Available at: Accessed April 21, 2022.

COPD. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed April 21, 2022.

What is COPD? National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website. Available at: Accessed April 21, 2022.

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