Home Exercise Equipment for COPD

September 28th, 2011 | Author: COPD Coach

Dear Coach,

I am thinking about getting a treadmill and exercise bike to use for home exercising. What should I look for?

Shoes Are Made for Walking

Dear Shoes,

I’m glad you asked! There’s  a wide range of features, as well as poor to excellent quality, to be found in exercise equipment, and there are definitely special considerations when you have COPD. It’s tempting to shop at a garage sale or thrift store for inexpensive equipment, but before you go, you should know what to look for – and what to avoid. Here are some tips to consider before you shop for a treadmill or bike to use at home.

From Respiratory Rehabilitation UK


  1. Make sure your treadmill is motorized. If you have COPD, it’s simply too much work to use a treadmill that requires you to push the belt yourself.
  2. Get a treadmill that goes slowly enough. Remember, when you have COPD, exercise is not about speed, but endurance. In other words, you don’t have to go fast to get a lot of benefit. If your treadmill can go as slow as 0.6 MPH, that’s great. If not, a TM that goes as slow as 0.8 MPH will give most people with severe COPD a nice warm-up and plenty of room to go faster.
  3. Make sure your treadmill will run at a flat level, with no grade (uphill). It’s good to have the option of adjusting the grade at a slight incline if you’re able.
  4. Try to get a treadmill with a padded walking surface. This makes a big difference in the comfort of your feet and how tired you become.
  5. Choose a treadmill with an emergency shut off. This way if you were to trip and fall, the treadmill would automatically shut off, giving you a chance to get up and dust yourself off from a surface that’s not moving.
  6. Look for equipment with side bars for balance, in addition to a support bar out in front of you.

Treadmill tips:

Position your treadmill so you can look out a window with an interesting view, watch television or listen to music with a good beat. Reading and eating while on the treadmill are not recommended!  Looking up and looking around while maintaining a firm (not tight) grip on the rails will help you keep your balance.  Safety first!

Exercise Bicycles

There are three main types of exercise bikes.

  1. Stationary bike – With this type of bike your legs pedal, but your arms do not move. You set the resistance.
  2. Air resistance – This is a bike that you pedal with your legs, but your arms move as well, making this a more demanding exercise. Instead of a setting for resistance, the resistance comes from air being pulled into the bike. The front of the bike looks like a big electric fan.
  3. Recumbent bike – This type of exercise bike allows you to sit back, with your back supported. The pedals are in front of you, rather than under you. For some people this type of exercise is easier and less stress on the knees and back.

Bike tips:

Choose a bike that allows you to adjust the resistance from almost nothing, up to something that challenges you. Find a bike that’s easy to get on and off of safely.

Thanks for writing,

COPD Coach

Ask the Expert is aimed at providing information for individuals with COPD to take to your doctor, and is not in any way intended to be medical advice.

If you would like to submit a question to the Coaches Corner email us at coachescorner@copdfoundation.org. We would love to hear your questions and comments. You can address your emails to any of the following: COPD Coach, Caregiver Coach, COPD Doctor or COPD RT.


  1. gary nowlyn says:

    My emphysema seems to be worsening. Still can do treadmill about 30 minutes at 2.4. Don’t know if good or bad. Also have asthma and get worn out walking around block.

  2. gary nowlyn says:

    My emphysema seems to be worsening. Still can do about 30 minutes at 2.4. Don’t know if good or bad. Also have asthma and get worn out walking around block.

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  4. King Tran says:

    What an inspiring post, filled with meaningful lessons! I related on a few levels.

  5. johnashaaf says:

    You will find two primary kinds of opposition present in all sorts associated with fixed exercise bike, belt pressure as well as permanent magnetic opposition.

  6. John Cunningham says:

    I bought a Horn at the Rennasants Festival and used it to aggravate the wife with noise till she brought me 2 beers to fill horn with the plug screwed in….. Thinking the back pressure may help open my small airways that my Pulminalogist said is important…. I just went out and did it as an exercise 3 times for 3 sets,,,, My lungs feel more open than using my Inhaler…… Just like using the Digarado an Aboriginal Instrument from New Zealand exercises the muscles in the back of the thought (Only one in the world), In the New England Journal of Medicine,,,,,, THANX JC.

  7. This site was… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve found something which helped me.
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  9. David Von Poppe says:

    Hi–I have copd and my 6 mt checkups involve breathing tests for lung capacity. I’m down to 30% lung capacity. I’m going thru the standard effects of copd( which others also have) which include the lack of strength to properly exercise (walking—constant shortness of breath etc.
    I notice that in your article you mention 3 types of bikes. I’d like to ask which one would you recommend to deal with those types of problems. I’m not sure which bike is for my problem or another type of problem. I’ve gotten to that point where exercise is absolutely necessary. Any help you can give would be appreciated.
    If possible, could you supply an answer by Email?

  10. Really when someone doesn’t understand afterward its up to other users that
    they will help, so here it takes place.

  11. Andrew says:

    Thank you for letting me know about this,COPD Coach. Exercise equipment is any apparatus or device used during physical activity to Resistance bands; Weight machines; Flexion machines such as Bowflex.

  12. Robert Braun says:

    We have looked for affordable home treadmills with the long handrails and small (1/10 mph) speed increments. The only one we could find is shown at http://www.treadmill-world.com/endurance-cardio-t50-walking-treadmill.html

  13. Great Article! My husband has done cardiac rehabilitation post surgery and with his COPD all the things you say in this article is true. He can not walk on any type of incline on a treadmill or outdoors. He prefers the recumbent bike to a stationary bike. He also was instructed to use the arm pedals which was very difficult. I do advise if you are working out at home be sure and check your oxygen between exercises and your blood pressure before and after exercise. It is probably best to start out slow with supervision until you know your limits. Best of luck to all! Be all that you can BE!

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