Pulmonary Rehabilitation


Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) is a treatment programme that is designed to help individuals with pulmonary conditions stay physically active. PR covers any disease affecting the lungs and airways, the two primary conditions being Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Asthma. PR involves a structured exercise programme, educational materials regarding looking after your body and your lungs, and professional advice on managing your condition and your symptoms. 

COPD is a progressive lung disease that makes breathing difficult. Airflow limitation is associated with an abnormal inflammatory response of the lungs, usually caused by cigarette smoke. Asthma is characterised by chronic inflammation of the airways, which can make it difficult to breathe. Inflammation can trigger a tightening of airways and mucus secretion. Both conditions cause breathlessness and coughing, and both can be effectively managed with PR.

Physical Activity & Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Physical activity is the cornerstone to PR. Regular physical activity improves blood circulation and your heart deliver oxygen around your body. It also strengthens your respiratory muscles, making it easier to breathe. Everyone with a pulmonary condition can be physically active, regardless of age and severity of disease. 

Often individuals living with a pulmonary condition will avoid physical activity due to fears that it will worsen their symptoms and condition. Despite this, by avoiding activities you are using your muscles less and they then become weaker. Weaker muscles mean that you have to work harder and so require more oxygen to perform your daily activities. Over time, this contributes to feeling more and more breathless. We call this the vicious cycle of inactivity.

PR is designed to educate individuals living with a pulmonary condition on how to use physical activity to benefit their condition and their overall health. PR programmes encourage the use of techniques such as breathing exercises, pacing, and avoiding negative behaviours such as avoidance of activities or ‘boom or bust’ cycles, in which doing too much activity causes worsening of symptoms and leaves you unable participate in further physical activity. Completing a PR course has been shown to effectively teach individuals living with a pulmonary condition how to partake in physical activity and daily tasks safely and at the right intensity level.

The Benefits of PR

There are many benefits of PR:

  • Improves muscle strength so oxygen can be used more efficiently
  • Reduces breathlessness
  • Helps you cope better when breathlessness does occur
  • Improves fitness and physical function so you feel more confident to do everyday tasks
  • Regain or maintain independence 
  • Improves mental health
  • Improves understanding to enable better self-management of your condition
  • Teaches you to enjoy physical activity and find what works for you
  • Allows you to meet and connect with other individuals in a similar situation to yourself

Regular physical activity can help prevent the vicious cycle of inactivity, and has numerous benefits to your physical health, mental wellbeing and can significantly improve your quality of life. There isn’t one type of physical activity that’s best for everyone with a pulmonary condition. It can take a variety of forms because physical activity is multidimensional. Ultimately, it’s about finding what works for you as an individual.

KiActiv® Value Proposition for PR

At KiActiv®, we work with patients living with a pulmonary condition that are on the waiting list or currently undergoing PR to support them to find the value of everyday movement in their daily routine. This enables them to optimise their physical activity to benefit their health in the context of their condition and environment.

All patients completing PR should be encouraged to find activities outside of PR to benefit their health and to continue to be physically active beyond the PR programme. Crucial to this understanding is that physical activity is more than just exercise and sport, and that every move you make counts. Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure and, as such, it is important that all of the movement in our lifestyles are accounted for – not just exercise.

Indeed, for many people living with symptoms of breathlessness, physical activity is something that is often dreaded or feared, and there is a common misconception that for physical activity to be valuable it must be vigorous. As such, we help individuals to effectively self-manage their physical activity, using everyday tasks and all forms of movement to benefit their health, improve confidence and understanding, and enable them to maintain or increase their physical activity levels outside of their traditional PR programme. Importantly, for individuals with symptoms of breathlessness, focusing on movements they enjoy or feel comfortable with, and learning how to pace themselves effectively, can help alleviate fear and deliver the numerous benefits associated with regular physical activity.

Client Quotes

“Realisation that any movement is worth it. Can now walk happily for 45 mins (I started at 15 mins) locally. This is good for my asthma, and if I keep busier all day, I sleep better. All in all feeling more positive and happy about doing stuff, because all movement is worth it.” – 67, Female, Asthma & Type 2 Diabetes

“I can feel its made a difference. Been trying to get vo2 levels up, and it has started going back up!” 65 , Female, COPD

“I know that the changes that I have made and continue to make will benefit me for a long time to come, my asthma has already improved.” – 54, Female, Asthma & IgA Nephropathy

“I have used knowledge of the plans to improve section of the KiActiv® charts to increase activities like walking daily and working harder at the exercises taught in the Pulmonary Rehab course.”  – 77, Female, Chronic Sarcoidosis (in both lungs)

“An eyeopener to things I could do as I have COPD.” – 66, Female, COPD

“I’ve learned quite a bit, but the thing that sticks in my mind is ‘one minute’. Every time I think about it, I get up and do something.”  79, Male, Bronchiectasis & Pulmonary Fibrosis

“I am actually finding that I’m not getting breathless as I was.” – 65, Female, Asthma & Emphysema

“The more I move, the better my breathing is.” 65, Female, COPD, Arthritis, Osteoporosis