Being diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension is life changing. Many patients are scared to exercise or participate in activities that they previously enjoyed. Many patients have felt too tired or too short of breath to exercise and have become deconditioned or out of shape. Once therapy for pulmonary arterial hypertension has been initiated and the patient has stabilized they should talk to their pulmonary hypertension team about starting a workout regimen. Our goal in treating patient s with PAH is to restore them to a better quality of life. Being active is part of that process.
In general it is good to be active! A daily walking regimen is a great way to start exercising. Pulmonary hypertension patients should start slowly and listen to their bodies. Exercise should be stopped immediately for severe shortness of breath or chest pain. At first the activity may be difficult; it is ok to start with a few minutes of walking at a time and gradually build up. You’ll never walk a mile if you don’t take the first step. Everyone has to start somewhere so don’t be discouraged if you can only walk to the mailbox and back at first. Just keep going.
Pulmonary hypertension patients should generally avoid lifting heavy objects. So what is heavy? If you can lift it ten times easily then it is ok. If you have to strain then it is too heavy. Exercises that require a patient to bend at the waste with their head down, like some yoga moves, should also be avoided. Ask your PH expert about specific weight limits or exercise programs. Many of our patients are able to go to the gym and walk on a treadmill and lift light weights. If you live in a region where the weather is either very hot or cold, try walking inside a mall. The malls usually open their doors early in the morning. You will find yourself in good company with other “Mall-Walkers”. There are usually plenty of places to sit and rest and parking should not be a problem.
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