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Living with COPD Series

Conserving Energy

Plan ahead

  • Helps to eliminate wasted time and unnecessary extra motion.

  • Plan each day and allow for frequent rest breaks.

  • Know your best time of the day to accomplish tasks and schedule activities accordingly.

  • Assemble all items needed to complete a task before you begin.

  • Make a flexible schedule for the week, spreading out the heavier more difficult tasks. You can also try to breakdown heavy tasks into a few lighter tasks.

Balance rest with activity

  • Learn to allow time to rest when planning your daily activities.

  • Rest improves endurance and will leave strength for more enjoyable activities.

  • Rest means doing absolutely nothing at all.

  • Try to rest 5-10 minutes out of every hour.

  • Get adequate sleep. Though sleep difficulties are common for some, try for 8-10 hours per night.

  • Rest for 45-60 minutes after meals. It requires a great deal of energy and oxygen to digest meals.

  • Rest in a reclined position when possible. Sitting to rest takes 1/3 more energy then lying down.

Learn activity tolerance

  • Learn what you can do in a given day. 

  • Try not to over do even if you think you can do much more on a given day than normal.

  • Be flexible with your routine for those days you feel not quite up to par.

  • Can an activity be broken down into smaller more manageable tasks?

  • Is someone else available that can help you with your harder tasks?

Set priorities

  • Focus on those tasks or activities that are priorities that must be done.

  • Learn to let go of the guilt that can come with not finishing a task due to fatigue. There is always another time.

  • Eliminate unnecessary jobs and delegate to others when at all possible

  • If possible, hire out those activities that have become virtually impossible for you. Lawn mowing is a good example.

Pace activities

  • Rest before becoming exhausted.

  • Taking time out for a rest break may seem difficult at first, but it will greatly help your endurance and stamina in the long run.

  • Most importantly, DO NOT RUSH.

Additional suggestions

  • Sit rather then stand when possible. Sitting requires less energy.

  • Use good body mechanics and muscles that use the least amount of energy.

  • Use proper work heights.

  • Keep items used frequently within easy reach.

Compiled by COPD-International Community Members

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Last modified: June 17, 2002