Pulmonary rehabilitation

13) How can I join a pulmonary rehabilitation course?

Most health care professionals can refer you to pulmonary rehabilitation so make sure you ask them about it if you think this could help you. If you have an MRC score of 3 or above you can benefit from pulmonary rehabilitation (see below). Do not go to the gym until after you have been to pulmonary rehab so you will know how to manage your chest condition in the gym environment.

The MRC scale
1 2 3 4 5
Person with hiking boots and rucksack climbing hill Lady walking up steep hill with shopping bag getting breathless Man out of breath walk on flat road, road sign with 1 mile Person out of breath, leaning on a wall, 60 metres Person housebound, in their armchair
You are not troubled by breathlessness except on strenuous exercise. You are short of breath when hurrying on the level or walking up a slight hill. You walk slower than most people on the level, stop after a mile or so, or stop after 15 minutes walking at own pace. You stop for breath after walking about 100 yards (60 metres) or after a few minutes on level ground. You are too breathless to leave the house, or breathless when dressing or undressing.

If you have an MRC score of 1 or 2 ask about the exercise and activity you can do at home or at your local gym.

If there is a waiting list, ask your health care professional what activities you can do in the meantime (see our section on Physical activity and exercise for more information). Ask your nurse, GP or other health care professional about what is available in your area. Sometimes you can get reduced rates at leisure centres or gyms if you are referred by a health care professional.

As well as benefiting people who find that their breathlessness is starting to affect their lifestyle, pulmonary rehabilitation can also help people who have just recovered from an exacerbation. If you have been in hospital with an exacerbation of COPD ask about referral to pulmonary rehabilitation. This can help you to recover and help you to stay out of hospital. The only time you should not exercise is while you are unwell or having an exacerbation or flare up.