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Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Pulmonary rehabilitation (rehab) programs help people with chronic lung problems breathe better. They help improve a person's overall health and strength. The programs are led by healthcare providers trained to treat people with lung disease. With their help, you’ll learn about your condition. You'll gain skills to help you manage it. Pulmonary rehab can help people of all ages, including adults age 70 and older.

Healthcare provider coaching man walking on treadmill wearing nasal cannula.

What to expect

Pulmonary rehab programs include:

  • Exercise. This is to help you increase your endurance, strength, and flexibility. For example:

    • You may walk. You may ride a stationary bike. You may do exercises in a chair.

    • You may be taught stretches to do before and after exercise.

    • You may use weights to build strength.

    • Your pulse, heart rate, and oxygen levels may be checked as you exercise.

  • Education. You'll learn about your lung problem and how to stay as healthy as possible.

  • Self-management. You'll learn about nutrition, medicines, oxygen, and other tools.

  • Counseling. This is to give you emotional support and help you learn problem-solving skills.

  • Help to stop smoking. If you smoke, you'll have help and support to quit.


Pulmonary rehab will help you:

  • Do more of the things you enjoy

  • Improve your strength and sense of well-being

  • Be more independent

  • Do daily activities, such as household tasks, with less shortness of breath

  • Manage your symptoms and medicines

  • Have fewer emergency room visits and less time in the hospital

  • Deal with shortness of breath

  • Quit smoking. This is the most significant change you can make for your health.

  • Get answers to your healthcare questions

  • Set and meet realistic self-management goals

Online Medical Reviewer: Chris Southard RN
Online Medical Reviewer: David A Kaufman MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2024
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