How to Conserve Your Energy with COPD

This article was reviewed by Senior Director of Community Engagement and COPD360social Community Manager, Bill Clark, as well as certified staff Respiratory Therapists on February 4, 2020.

Dear Coach,
My question concerns conserving energy. I’m only 56 years old and I really enjoy a shower and shampoo, yet the exhaustion of that activity wears me out so badly that it takes me 1-2 hours often to get my energy back. It’s hard to enjoy something when it results in such debilitating fatigue.

Thanks so much for your help in this matter and the assistance you provide so many in need.

—Need to Regain My Energy

Dear Need to Regain,
The only way I know how to handle energy conservation—in addition to maintaining strength in the muscles of your arms, legs and hands—is to do things smarter. For example, you could invest in a shower or bath chair and take your showers while seated. Use warm water as opposed to hot. Use water to get yourself wet, turn it off to lather up, and turn it on again to rinse. Have a terrycloth robe close by to dry off as opposed to using a towel. Also, many find that a hand held shower is easier to use. And if you require supplemental oxygen, wear it in the shower. Don’t worry about getting water up your nose.

Another trick that works is to plan activity before you do it. For instance, if it’s something as simple as going downstairs, think before performing the task to make sure you get everything you will need in one trip. A tip about climbing stairs that really works: Always do your pursed-lips breathing and climb up only as you breathe out. In addition to planning ahead, make sure you allow enough time to get where you need to go and do what you need to get done—without rushing. Being in a hurry is a big breath buster!

I also encourage you to ask your doctor about getting a referral to an Occupational Therapist who can talk with you about your biggest challenges and work with you one-on-one to teach you ways of doing everyday tasks with less shortness of breath. Pulmonary rehab is an excellent place to learn how to conserve your energy and maximize your lungs.

I don’t know how much help my answers will be to you, but I sincerely hope they will offer your some assistance or at least maybe a starting point.

Good luck, and keep us informed.

The COPD Coach

Coaches Corner is aimed at providing information for individuals with COPD to take to your doctor, and is not in any way intended to be medical advice. If you would like to submit a question to the Coaches Corner email us at [email protected] We would love to hear your questions and comments. You can address your emails to The COPD Coach.


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