Don’t Forget to Breathe: Respiratory Issues and Obesity
We’ve noted the importance of exercise in various posts and have identified a range of options to encourage people to find something they enjoy and take it up a notch. Still, some people procrastinate in starting some type of physical activity because it can be a struggle – physically and mentally – to take the first step.
Exercise of any type requires some level of exertion. This can be a problem for people with obesity because respiratory issues are common. When weight increases, lung volume decreases, and that restricts the amount of air you take in and lowers total lung capacity. People who are “apple” shaped and carry more weight in their chest or abdomen are more likely to feel this way because it impacts their diaphragm, causing it work harder.
This creates a chicken-and-egg problem: the exercise that will help you feel better and improve your breathing and stamina may be uncomfortable and make you not want to exercise. But you’ve just got to do it. Think of all those Brussel sprouts you had to eat when you were young – it was torture but you got through it, and now you may even like them!
Be Aware of your Breathing, and Start Slow
It’s important to be aware of your breath for a couple of reasons. First, the strain you may initially feel when you start a new activity is actually strengthening your lungs and heart. This means as your level of activity increases, you won’t be as short of breath. Also, and importantly, talk to your health care provider about reasonable expectations. Going up and down the stairs or to the end of the driveway to collect mail may be sufficient for some, while others might be able to start with a light exercise class. Your doctor can also recommend some simple breathing exercises to strengthen respiratory muscles.
It will be a tough, but that’s nothing new. Weight loss is the first and best treatment for improving lung functions. On the plus side, once you get through those first few attempts and start breathing easier, you will be surprised at how much better you feel doing routine things. Carrying things or picking things up from a low shelf or the floor won’t be such a strain so you may feel like you have more energy. Also, there’s a very good chance that you will sleep better and who doesn’t want that?
Exercise Really is Worth the Effort
Unfortunately, we can’t wave a magic wand and miraculously change our shape or transport us to a remote tropical island where we can swim and eat fresh fruit all day. Some things require effort that we would rather not spend – even when we know it is the right thing to do. Exercise is one of those things. And while it may not seem like it at first, the benefits are so much greater than the drawbacks: you’ll lose weight, breathe easier, improve your physical and mental health and help your body be the best it can to function at its most efficient level. There’s no time like the present to get up and get moving!
About the Author: Dr. Andrea Pampaloni has over 20 years of communication experience across corporate, academic, nonprofit and government sectors. She provides research and writing services on a range of business issues and industry-specific topics to prepare white papers, articles, proposals, presentations, technical content, and speaking points, as well as marketing-communications content such as blogs, website content, newsletters, news releases and award submissions. Dr. Pampaloni’s research findings have been presented at national and international conferences and published in peer-reviewed journals, and she is a ghostwriter for three books, a Forbes article, and several corporate blogs.