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While you are out and about there are things you can do to help with breathlessness.
When walking outdoors, take it slowly and use lower chest breathing. Try to match your breathing rate to your walking pace. You can do this by breathing in on one step then out in the next two steps.
A walking aid, such as a stick or frame, or a wheelchair can be useful for outdoor use, particularly for longer trips. Your nurse, physiotherapist or occupational therapist can arrange this for you. You can also hire wheelchairs from the British Red Cross|.
The Shopmobility|, Motability| and Blue Badge| schemes may be able to help you get out and about. Ask your nurse or social worker for details.
Gentle exercise need not make you breathless, especially if you take it slowly and use lower chest breathing as much as possible. By gradually increasing the exercise you do, you can help to improve your breathing and feel better. Even people with severe breathing problems can benefit from small amounts of gentle exercise.
Start slowly by doing arm and leg movements while you are sitting. Then set yourself goals for walking about from room to room, going to the front door, to the front gate, down the road and so on.
Remember to take it slowly, use lower chest breathing and pace your breathing with your steps. You may find that you’re able to do a bit more each time and this will help you manage your everyday activities more comfortably. A physiotherapist| can give you advice on the right type of exercise for you.
It can be helpful to keep a note of when your breathlessness has been difficult, activities that made it worse and what techniques you used to deal with it. You may find there are certain times of the day when more energy is needed, such as getting dressed in the morning, or that feeling stressed can make it worse.
You can also use a diary to plan activities for times of the day when you feel better and to remind you to practise breathing control and relaxation exercises. We have a symptom diary [PDF, 903kb]| which you might find helpful.
Content last reviewed: 1 January 2011
Next planned review: 2013
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