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Therapeutic exercise programme ‘makes life easier’ for COPD patients

Thursday, 03 July, 2014
Therapeutic exercise programme ‘makes life easier’ for COPD patients

A therapeutic exercise programme is helping people with a serious lung disease in North Tyneside to manage their condition.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust provides support through its health trainer programmes for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The seven-week health trainer programme is available at two of the three Healthy Living Centres the trust runs in North Tyneside at Meadowell and Dudley.

The programme includes individual exercise plans, disease education, nutrition advice and psychological and behavioural therapy. It is primarily delivered by health trainers with support from the trust’s senior respiratory nurse and clinical psychologist.

The health trainers also carry out health and wellbeing checks to monitor patients’ progress including blood pressure, waist, height and weight (BMI).

David Chambers, who has COPD and spondylosis, recently took part in the health trainer programme. He said: “They start you off slowly with exercise and build you up which helps in the long run. The health trainers are a great help and support.

“I’ve been taught the correct breathing technique, which I didn’t know before, so if I get panicky or tense I do my breathing exercises and it’s making life easier.”

Overall patient feedback shows people with COPD are able to manage their condition better at home as a result of the health trainer programme. Improvements to cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, endurance and patients’ psychological wellbeing are also evident.

COPD is an umbrella term for chronic bronchitis and emphysema. People with COPD may experience difficulty breathing.  The symptoms of the disease include shortness of breath and a cough that won’t go away, both of which may get worse during winter.

COPD is one of the most common respiratory diseases in the UK and it usually affects people over the age of 35. Breathing difficulties found with COPD are caused by long-term damage to the lungs, usually caused by smoking.

Liam Darling-Cooper, a health trainer at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our aim is to support COPD patients to improve their health and fitness, therefore resulting in making daily living tasks easier, such as walking, and also helping to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and GP appointments.

“Patients tell us because their breathing improves their anxiety levels are reduced and they are more confident in managing their illness at home.”

GPs, district nurses, and health professionals can refer patients to the health trainer programme or you can get in touch directly.

The trust has produced a short film following the journey of four patients on the programme which is available at

Northumbria Healthcare third Healthy Living Centre is in Moor Park. Each centre also offers 12-week therapeutic exercise programmes tailored to each individual including healthy lifestyle advice for patients with other medical conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure, neurological disorders, joint problems, obesity and mental health issues.

For more information contact the Healthy Living Centres at Meadowell on 0191 270 4510/3, Dudley on 0191 643 2860 or Moor Park on 0191 257 6051. Alternatively visit