Breathlessness and exercise

  • With the appropriate advice most people can take part in some form of exercise. This not only improves health, lungs' tolerance for everyday activity, but also has benefits for mental wellbeing.
  • A feeling of breathlessness while exercising is normal; distress is not. It is important for patients to learn the difference.
  • Using a breathlessness scale, such as the MRC scale, can help when the patient is learning how hard to exercise.
  • When working with someone who is breathless due to a lung condition, you can ask them to say a sentence and see how many times they stop to take a breath. If it is more than 2 it is worth encouraging them to slow down or stop to catch their breath.
  • It is important for individuals to be able to identify the triggers that cause them to feel breathless and then to learn how to pace each trigger/activity. e.g. running up stairs causes someone to become breathless, encourage them to walk more slowly when climbing the stairs.