How long will it take for my COPD and asthma to keep me from walking?

2 answers | Last updated: Oct 15, 2016
Billy t asked...

I have COPD with asthma. When I walk up stairs or a hill I am out of breath. How long will it take before I can't walk again? I am 75 years old.

Expert Answers

Loutfi S. Aboussouan is a staff physician for the Cleveland Clinic's Respiratory Institute and Neurological Institute. He is board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary disease, critical care medicine, and sleep medicine and directs the pulmonary curriculum for the second-year class of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner School of Medicine.

One important and perhaps underused treatment that may help your ability to walk again, even up hills and stairs, may be pulmonary rehabilitation. Pulmonary rehabilitation is generally appropriate for patients with COPD and shortness of breath while walking. Each center that offers pulmonary rehabilitation is different, but in general you may be asked to visit a rehabilitation center several times per week for up to 2 hours each session, over several weeks. The sessions are usually tailored to your own needs and limitations. Therefore, if your goal is to be able to walk more, the session may involve leg exercises (such as treadmill). The sessions may also include education sessions with trained therapists.

Before you start rehabilitation therapy, I would make sure that your medical treatments including inhalers and oxygen needs are reviewed, and that your doctors agree with your participation in the program. Your doctor may also be able to recommend a specific center he/she is familiar with.

The interesting part about pulmonary rehabilitation is that most people feel so much better after rehabilitation, even though their lung function remains unchanged. In fact, they often feel much better than with medications alone. One important point about rehabilitation is that its benefits only last for as long as the exercise is maintained. This usually means that once the sessions are over, you need to stay active to keep the benefit.

Community Answers

Pat o answered...

I have severe broncial asthma, & excercised induced asthma, I am on 02 24/7 I am pretty active & would like to go to rehabilitation but my Dr says I don't need it. I feel I could learn to excerise & walk better , I get short of breath when I do these things.I am 67 yrs& quit smoking 6yrs ago.I eat healthy , I am a little overweight, 5ft 3 in & weigh 142 lbs. What do you think? Shall I find a differant Dr. Thank you so much Patricia Owens (