Is it safe to exercise with COPD?

Research has shown that exercising is highly beneficial for people living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Exercise improves your health and wellbeing, maximises muscle tone and strength, optimises heart health and reduces symptoms such as breathlessness.

At Northside Allied Health, our Accredited Exercise Physiologists, prescribe tailored exercise programs and supervise safe rehabilitation for clients with lung and breathing difficulties that can aid in improving quality of life.


The Lung Foundation Australia defines Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) as a long-term disease of the lungs that causes shortness of breath. It is important to understand that COPD is an umbrella term that includes other conditions such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and chronic asthma.

COPD currently is the leading cause of death and disease burden after heart disease, stroke and cancer, with one in seven Australians 40 years or over having airflow limitation of the lungs. At present there is no cure for COPD, however there are several ways to manage the condition and increase quality of life – one of these being exercise.


Yes! Especially when the exercise is tailored to your unique condition and you are being supervised by a professional.

Here are some of the benefits of exercise for people with COPD:

  • Improves your ability to do everyday tasks
  • Reduces your breathlessness
  • Improves your arm, body, and leg muscle strength
  • Helps to clear mucus (or sputum) from your chest
  • Improves your balance
  • Improves your mood and makes you feel more in control
  • Assists weight control
  • Improves your bone density
  • Reduces the need for hospital admission

It is important to remember that exercise itself cannot cure COPD, but it can improve your quality of life and how you manage your symptoms. Before starting an exercise program, it is important to talk to an Exercise Physiologist about what type of exercise would suit your specific needs.