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Pulmonary rehabilitation (rehab) is a program designed by a team of medical professionals who are committed to helping people with chronic lung disease. They will teach you the skills you need to live and breathe better. To put these skills to good use, you may need to make some changes to your lifestyle. The team will help you set realistic goals so you can make these changes gradually and effectively.
The pulmonary rehab team usually includes doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists. The team may also include exercise specialists, physical and occupational therapists, dietitians, pharmacists, and counselors. Although most programs take place in a group setting, these team members will help you one-on-one when you need it. If you’re not in a formal pulmonary rehabilitation program, your health care provider may refer you to a program.
To reach your goals, you’ll probably need to make a few changes to your lifestyle. These tips can help make changes go more smoothly:
Expect new emotions. It’s common to resist or feel angry or scared about having to make changes. You’re not alone. Share your feelings with the pulmonary rehab team and people close to you.
Prepare yourself for slow, steady progress. Change doesn’t happen overnight. To feel your best, you need to commit yourself to practicing your new skills. Over time, you’ll be stronger, have more control of shortness of breath, and be able to do more. But only if you keep at it.
Get support. You don’t have to go it alone. Get support from family and friends as you try new things. Tell the people in your life how they can help you reach your goals. Share your ideas and tips for success with other members of your pulmonary rehab group. And don’t be embarrassed to ask for help.
Are there things you can’t do now that you’d like to be able to do when your pulmonary rehab program is finished? Check off the statements below that may apply to you. Keep these goals in mind when you hit rough spots.
I want to:
Understand my lung disease and what I can do to feel better.
Have energy to enjoy my children and grandchildren.
Rely less on others.
Do everyday activities such as walking upstairs with less shortness of breath.
Return to my hobbies and leisure activities.
Be healthier and more active so I can enjoy my retirement.
Feel less anxious about my condition.
Travel and enjoy myself.
Make fewer visits to the hospital or emergency room.