If you have COPD, cystic fibrosis, lung cancer or other breathing-related problems, Pulmonary Rehabilitation is a program that can improve your quality of life. Healthcare providers will teach you new skills and supervise exercise programs to increase your strength. With their help, you’ll be able to go outside and get your mail with ease.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation is a supervised education and exercise program designed to help people with chronic (long-term) lung diseases. It will not cure your lung disease, but you may notice fewer breathing problems, more strength and an improved quality of life.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
Any person with a chronic lung disease might benefit from Pulmonary Rehabilitation. Examples of chronic lung conditions include:
Pulmonary Rehabilitation has three main goals:
The benefits of Pulmonary Rehabilitation include:
Your Pulmonary Rehabilitation may be overseen by nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, dieticians, social workers, spiritual advisors and/or physicians. They will help design a personal program for you. Pulmonary Rehabilitation may include the following:
You’ll meet in groups and also one-on-one with the staff.
Most Pulmonary Rehabilitation programs will be done at your local hospital or outpatient health center. Pulmonary Rehabilitation is usually two or three times a week for four to 12 weeks or more. Some programs even offer in-home sessions. Be sure to attend every session so you get the most out of the program! It may be hard and will take some time, but you should feel much better after attending. Ask your healthcare provider about a local program.
Chronic lung disease can cause your muscles to become weak. The muscles involved in breathing and in moving must be re-strengthened. You will have your own exercise program designed to improve your strength and endurance. You will receive education about your disease or condition. During the educational parts, you will learn:
In the exercise classes, your Pulmonary Rehabilitation staff will design a plan that takes all of your needs, strengths and weaknesses into account. You may start by stretching, then get on a stationary bicycle or treadmill, or even exercise while you’re sitting. You may build your strength using light weights. Regular exercise will improve your strength and endurance and will help you get through your day easier.
Many Pulmonary Rehabilitation programs offer counseling or support groups because managing your mental and emotional health is just as important as managing your physical health.
There are very few risks involved with Pulmonary Rehabilitation. You will get short of breath, but your exercise will be carefully monitored. You may have sore muscles when you first start the program, but this should improve with regular exercise. Your Pulmonary Rehabilitation team is highly trained and they will see to it that you get the best treatment.
Medicare and most insurances cover Pulmonary Rehabilitation for COPD, and other lung conditions. The coverage does vary depending on the program you attend and what type of insurance coverage you have.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation is effective if you put effort into it. With Pulmonary Rehabilitation, you may find the exercise and breathing techniques you learn will keep you from getting out of breath while walking between your living room and the kitchen or while walking to get your mail.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation gives you the best results if you continue to do the exercises and use the skills you learn long after you’ve completed the program. The staff will design a long-term plan for you – be sure to follow it!
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/18/2020.
Learn more about our editorial process.