Living with COPD can be extremely difficult, with shortness of breath being one of the scariest symptoms. Doing even simple things can often take twice as long, as tasks become more difficult and take more time. We have some tips to help you lead a healthy lifestyle and make your life easier.

Healthy Eating

Everyone’s heard that ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’, but if you are living with COPD this phrase may be a life motto to live by!

A study released in 2017 investigated the relationship between lung function decline and dietary antioxidants. This study showed that the intake of foods that are rich in antioxidants (i.e. fruits and vegetables) helped to slow the decline in lung function. Specifically, the intake of apples, bananas, tomatoes and even herbal tea were all shown to help slow this decline1.

Plan If You Can

We all have that one friend who doesn’t seem to know what planning is, but with COPD it may be difficult to live life this way. The stress of something not being planned or rushing places can leave you gasping for breath.

Planning ahead whenever you go out can help reduce the stress enormously. Is there somewhere to sit down? Are there lots of stairs? Can you park near the entrance? Is the temperature too high or low? Are there any colds going around? Pace yourself and plan in advance, asking for advice & assistance, you may be surprised how helpful many venues can be2.

Woman Running


Exercising with COPD can be very strenuous, make sure to check with your doctor before starting any new types of exercise. Before starting any new activities, it can be helpful to practice breathing exercises. Done regularly, these can help make any form of physical activity easier.

If you haven’t done much exercise before or haven’t in a long time then it’s probably not a good idea to compete in a marathon straight away. Take it slow at first and build your way up.

Walking is a great first exercise to start with, it helps to improve a huge range of muscles that are used in everyday life, while also helping to strengthen your lungs. On top of that walking can be fun! We suggest walking in rural areas so that you can relax while exercising, sunny days are perfect to walk around the huge range of footpaths Britain has to offer!

Once you are comfortable walking, you can build this up to jogging, skipping, and cycling. These will all help strengthen the heart, lungs and surrounding respiratory muscles. Any aerobic or cardiovascular exercise will help you, you don’t have to do the sports we have suggested, find something you enjoy and try to stick with it!

Avoid Germs

We’re not trying to turn you into the next Howard Hughes, but it is important to steer clear of people who are sick. Try to avoid crowds during cold and flu season, this will help prevent germs spreading and you from getting sick. It's important to wash your hands as much as possible and try to keep your hands off your face.

Getting vaccinated can also help protect you from certain COPD complications. Getting your yearly flu vaccine and having the pneumonia vaccine at least once before age 65 are both useful, but make sure to consult with your doctor before having either of these3.

Broken Cigarette  

Quit Smoking

We all want to look like Clint Eastwood in ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ but smoking won’t do that! If you haven’t already, quit! Smoking is the most significant cause of COPD and the biggest risk factor for those with COPD.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that e-cigarettes aren’t bad for you either. Just because they don’t have tar or smoke in them doesn’t mean they’re healthy! They have a number of ingredients in them, including flavourings, that you are inhaling. As the effects of these ingredients are not yet known, it can’t be said that they are safe.

Keep Your Air Clean

You don’t have to wear a gas mask wherever you go, but air quality is important, it can trigger breathlessness and other COPD symptoms.

Indoor air can sometimes be more polluted than the air outdoors, so make sure the air in your house is as clean as possible by using a high-efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA). These filters can remove as much as 99% of indoor air pollutants. If you’re planning to spend lots of time outdoors, you can use air pollution forecasts to see what the air will be like on different days. Most forecasting websites have at least a 5 day outlook, giving you plenty of time to plan your days out!

Badminton player tying shoe laces

Wear Your MedicAlert

It's important for you to feel safe wherever you are. Wearing your MedicAlert ID will give you the peace of mind to know that we can ensure that those treating you in the event of an emergency know you have COPD. Stress is one of the causes of a COPD flare up, so we’re here to help reduce that burden. Whether you are out running or at a dinner party, we have a range of jewellery for everyone, for every occasion so there is no reason not to keep yourself safe with MedicAlert membership at all times.


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1 Dietary antioxidants survey
2 9 things people with lung disease want you to know
3 Live better with COPD

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