Put some spring in your step

Spring is finally here and as the days get warmer and longer it’s a time when many of us are making the most of getting outdoors.

But this might also be a time of year when you feel an increase in your COPD symptoms. You may feel more fatigued, for example, or more breathless (winded) as you try to become more active.

Professor Christopher Cooper – GSK Global Medical Expert and Director of the University of California, Los Angeles COPD Research Programme – outlines his tips for how, with a little preparation and thought, you can still make the most of the warmer weather.

  • Warmer days can be an opportunity to be more active, which is important to help you manage your COPD, as well as an opportunity to enjoy the warmer season.
  • If you find that increasing physical activity provokes more COPD symptoms, do not despair or give up. Make sure you continue taking your regular treatment and speak to your doctor if needed.
  • If you are able to, try to get outside, by taking a daily stroll around the block, or to the local shop for a pint of milk. 
  • Alternatively, put your coat on and try to find some dedicated time to sit outside. 
  • The weather can still be unpredictable in spring, so ensure you’re prepared before you go out. Check the forecast before you leave and make sure you carry a light jacket with you to protect against any cold spells and an umbrella for those April showers. 
  • If you do have allergies, talk to your doctor now. Don’t wait for the symptoms to kick in – be prepared and ensure you know your allergy triggers such as house dust or grass pollens and have the right avoidance strategy and treatments to hand. 
  • For example, try to plan your outdoor activities for late morning or early afternoon, when pollen counts are at their lowest. 
  • And try to plan these activities in places with low traffic fumes, avoiding places with freshly-mown grass. This might be a challenge, so it may be useful to carry a light scarf in your bag in case you need to protect yourself against fumes or mown grass, which could aggravate your breathing. 
  • We all love a BBQ as the weather gets warmer, but smoke can be a significant trigger for people with COPD. Try to find a spot where you can sit out of the way of any smoke or fumes, which can act as a nasty irritant for your lungs. 
  • It’s that time of year when you may get the urge to for a customary spring clean. But again, it’s important to be prepared – try to avoid cleaning products and sprays that produce lots of fumes, using a damp cloth wherever you can. 
  • Keep rooms ventilated before you begin. You may be disturbing dust that could also make breathing difficult. 
  • You don’t need to miss out on being outdoors at one of the most enjoyable times of the year. By taking the time to prepare, you can manage your symptoms and make the most of springtime.