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What does pulmonary rehabilitation involve?

A pulmonary rehabilitation program typically runs for at least six weeks with two to three sessions per week. Each session will usually involve a group education session (for example, lectures, demonstrations or discussions), and followed by supervised exercise.

You may also be given a home exercise program to do on some of the days that you do not attend the rehabilitation program. The pulmonary rehabilitation program will teach you exercises that you should continue to do after the program finishes so that you can maintain the benefits.

At the start of the pulmonary rehabilitation program, your medical history will be documented and your baseline measures taken, such as oxygen levels, blood pressure, weight, a spirometry breathing test and questionnaires to assess your quality of life. Once a baseline has been determined, a specially tailored program of exercise can be designed for you which will also take into consideration any other conditions you may have (e.g. arthritis). At the completion of the 6 to 8 weeks you will be reassessed to measure the improvements.

The structured exercise sessions in pulmonary rehabilitation programs involve exercises using both your arms and your legs and will help you to be more active and improve your fitness. Exercise will include components of aerobic, strength, stretching and balance. These will be explained in further detail later in this module.