Before I attended the course I couldn’t
walk, I couldn’t go out, I was in a disability cart. I was suffering from asthma very badly, I
couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t talk. I would get out of breath – I used to walk
up Eltham High Street but had to stop every now and again. I had very very limited mobility and got out
of breath at the slightest exercise. Pulmonary Rehabilitation is a seven week supervised
exercise programme designed by Greenwich Community Health Services. It’s for the people who
live in the borough of Greenwich who have a chronic lung condition such as emphysema
or chronic bronchitis. Patients who are becoming more and more breathless
because of their condition will benefit from attending this course. The exercises are designed
to help our patients cope with feelings of breathlessness and help improve strength and
fitness levels. Evidence tells us that the impact of pulmonary
rehab can be extremely significant. Patients have demonstrated not only improvements in
their fitness levels, but also in their perception of breathlessness, in their quality of life,
and a reduction in their levels of depression and anxiety. When I was referred to the pulmonary rehab
I was very nervous, very apprehensive, didn’t think it would do any good. I must admit I was extremely frightened and
approached it with some trepidation. I was a bit apprehensive, I didn’t know
what it was going to involve. When patients first start the classes they
are taught how to do the exercises. Each week they are encouraged to do a little bit more.
The sessions always begin with a warm up and finish with a cool down, with some stretches.
The classes are sociable and enjoyable as there is the opportunity to meet other people
who are in exactly the same situation. When I was referred to exercise I was just
amazed to see what they did with me and I’ve benefited so much that I can’t tell you. They started giving me sort of confidence,
how to handle myself and how to handle my daily to daily living. Pulmonary rehab has taught me that exercise
is good. People come here, they think they can’t do this, they can’t do that. They
see the machines, they think no, no, we can’t do that at all, but then they realise they
can, and they can go out and they can walk and they’re not going to fall down and collapse
just because they get breathless. The programme also involves education sessions
delivered by a wide range of healthcare professionals. Patients benefit by learning more about their
lung disease and ways to stay fit and healthy. The sessions include information on: What is COPD? How to deal with a chest infection Respiratory medicines and inhalers Oxygen therapy Sputum clearance techniques Good nutrition Anxiety and depression The importance of exercise Goal setting, and a COPD quiz. Patients with chronic lung disease can suffer
a lot and the major issue is breathlessness. This can be extremely distressing and disabling.
The natural response is to avoid doing things that cause patients to become breathless and
gradually over time patients can become less and less active. Their bodies become deconditioned,
less fit if you like. The key to this, however, is exercise and that’s what pulmonary rehab
is all about. We do know that exercise can actually be better than some of the drug treatments
that we offer. As healthcare professionals, we need to change our approach to patients
with chronic lung disease and offer exercise as a treatment via access to a local pulmonary
rehab programme. Since I’ve done the course, oh, leaps and
bounds. I can walk, I can breathe, I know how to control my breathing when I’m getting
an attack, I know how to psyche myself up, I know how to breathe, bend down, bend over.
It’s been so informative. I feel much much better, I can walk, I can
climb the stairs quite comfortably, I can handle my, I can carry some suitcases. At
the same time I feel as if I’m sort of rejuvenated, it’s brought strength into my body you see. The impact it’s had on my quality of life
has been immeasurable, my goal was to take my grandchildren to Greenwich Park again,
because we used to go there a lot, but I haven’t been able to before the exercise classes.
That was my aim to take them back to Greenwich Park. I succeeded. Now the confidence to go out has come back.
I wasn’t driving before I did pulmonary rehab and I’m driving again now and that’s
given me quite a bit of independence as well. The best thing I did in my life is meeting
my wife, and second best thing I did is I came to these classes and did my exercise
routine for seven weeks and that helped me tremendously. Once patients have completed the programme
they will have the opportunity to continue exercising in many different ways. The Pulmonary
Rehabilitation Team will provide support and encouragement for patients to ensure they
continue to exercise. It is extremely important that exercise becomes part of a weekly routine
to prevent the cycle of inactivity creeping back in. By choosing an exercise you enjoy,
planning it into your week, involving your friends and family, you are more likely to
succeed in staying fit and healthy. This will also help to maintain all the benefits achieved
at pulmonary rehabilitation. Pulmonary rehabilitation is run twice a week
at the Waterfront Leisure Centre in Woolwich and in Eltham at the Eltham Centre. From time
to time we also run classes at the Arches Leisure Centre in Greenwich. If you live in
Greenwich, have a chronic lung disease and are interested in attending the classes, please
ask your GP or practice nurse for more information. It is important that you are assessed for
the class to ensure that you are safe to exercise. This assessment will be carried out by a member
of the Pulmonary Rehab team once you have been referred. “And what would you say to someone who is watching
this that might be apprehensive about taking the course?” Oh no, please do take it, it’s brilliant.
It is really good, my life is so much better now. If you’re thinking about it, stop thinking
and do it!