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Key facts

  • Pulmonary rehabilitation helps people with lung disease to improve their symptoms and overall well-being
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation involves exercise and education classes to help manage symptoms
  • Continuing the exercises even after the course has finished can help give ongoing benefits

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a complete, multidisciplinary program of education and monitored exercise designed for people with lung conditions. Your healthcare team may prescribe pulmonary rehabilitation as an addition to other types of care to help improve your symptoms and overall well-being.

Pulmonary rehabilitation can have many benefits, such as helping you manage your breathing, giving you more energy and improving your quality of life.

A pulmonary rehabilitation program uses a combination of exercising, teaching and counselling, including:

  • Physical conditioning
  • Exercise training and breathing exercises
  • Anxiety, stress and depression management
  • Advice and support to improve your diet
  • Education about pulmonary fibrosis

A team of specialists, such as doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, social workers and dieticians, generally run pulmonary rehabilitation programs. You can receive pulmonary rehabilitation in your home, community or local hospital. There are even some great apps like the PF Health App by the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation.

Some of the things that this app allows you to do:

  • Connect to pulmonary fibrosis experts and the latest news
  • Track and trend your pulmonary fibrosis related symptoms
  • Record your spirometry values to help monitor progression
  • Monitor and trend your weight over time

The goal of pulmonary rehabilitation is to provide you with education, skills and tools to help improve the management of your pulmonary fibrosis and increase your participation in social and physical activities.

What makes up pulmonary rehabilitation?

Exercise training: With supervised training, you can learn to do tasks in a more efficient way. The result is you may find that you have more energy to do daily tasks and that your breathlessness becomes more manageable.

Breathing exercises: Simple exercises can be used to control your breathing and reduce breathlessness.

Education about pulmonary fibrosis: Information on pulmonary fibrosis, including how it will affect your life, dealing with symptoms and understanding the medications you are taking.

Other components of a program may include mental well-being support, nutrition classes, relaxation and help to quit smoking.

When you start pulmonary rehabilitation, your healthcare team will create an education and exercise plan designed just for you. 

It is important to continue exercising even after completing your pulmonary rehabilitation program. Many programs offer a long-term exercise plan to help maintain the benefits you have gained.

Some pulmonary rehabilitation programs take place in a group in hospital, but often they take place in community halls, leisure centres or health centres. Most people enjoy these programs, gaining confidence and connecting with other people sharing similar experiences. Visit the pulmonary rehabilitation page on the Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation website to learn more about pulmonary rehabilitation, including finding programs near you.

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