Helpful strategies for living our best lives with COPD

The list includes medication compliance, diet, exercise, positivity and more

Caroline Gainer avatar

by Caroline Gainer |

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To live our best lives with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), we know that certain actions are necessary — taking our medications as directed, eating a healthy diet, getting enough rest, doing our exercises, getting our vaccinations, and maintaining a positive attitude. These are items on my checklist of things I should do to remain healthy.

We need a method that reminds us to take our medications on time, for instance. That’s called medication compliance, which is a way to improve our health. Compliance is listed after healthcare availability and access as the top ways to improve public health outcomes.

Inhaler compliance can be improved by a little device that plays a tune to remind you to use your inhaler. The one I’m familiar with is Propeller. I also have a morning and evening pill container, with the medications arranged by the days of the week. Some drugstores will arrange your medications in pill packs that contain all medications to take at different times of the day.

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Next, a healthy diet can help us maintain our desirable weight, improve our immune response, and provide us the nutrients our bodies need. Some experts recommend the Mediterranean diet for people with COPD.

I’ve written about trying to improve my eating habits, including by growing my own food. I also shop on the perimeter of the grocery store, where I find raw fruits and vegetables, meats, and nonprocessed foods. I purchase dried beans and pasta from the center aisles, but stay away from boxed dinners, except for Kraft Shells and Cheese. I could eat this every day, but I do limit myself.

Getting enough rest has become more of a challenge as I age. I’ve found that I need to be active to get a good night’s sleep. When necessary, I embrace the idea of a quick nap after the evening meal. In researching this topic, I’ve found that changes in circadian rhythm and sleep schedules, as well as pain and napping, can have a negative effect on the quality and quantity of sleep.

Exercising is my No. 1 action for remaining well and living a good life with COPD. Some of that may come from my background as a health, physical education, and biology student. My professors did an excellent job indoctrinating me on the benefits of exercise. I passionately believe in pulmonary rehabilitation as a prescription for improving a person’s quality of life.

Vaccines become more important as we age, especially if we age with COPD. Our immune systems decline in their ability to ward off infections, and inoculations can help bolster the immune response to diseases such as influenza and shingles.

The final item, having a positive attitude, may be the most difficult to achieve when dealing with a chronic illness. I use affirmations, physical activity, and counseling to improve my outlook on life.

I’m sure that you’ll find at least one of these actions more difficult than others when incorporating them into your daily life. Whatever your Waterloo is, just vow to overcome it and keep working.

Note: COPD News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of COPD News Today or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.


Lola Sparks avatar

Lola Sparks

Thanks so much for the info

David A Sylvester avatar

David A Sylvester

Great tips Caroline. Thanks

David A Sylvester avatar

David A Sylvester

Thanks Caroline. As always--Great information!!

Sandra Jane Danza avatar

Sandra Jane Danza

with severe COPD and seasonal allergies combined i am not walking as much anymore,i got Jane Fondas beginners yoga and resistance bands with a over the door latch to work arms and back strength, this has worked out so well for me


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