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12 Energy Conservation Techniques

12 Tips for Conserving Energy With COPD


Updated July 02, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Energy conservation techniques are important to learn if you have COPD because they help you better manage one of the most frightening aspects of the disease -- breathlessness. Unlike healthy people, breathing for a COPD patient can be quite a challenge, involving a real, conscious effort.

The following 12 tips for conserving energy will help you pace yourself while you complete your activities of daily living, so you don't become so winded. Also, keep in mind that these tips should be balanced with exercise and staying in shape -- both of which are very important to a person with COPD, but should be done with a doctor's advice.

  • Control your breathing. Breathing techniques like pursed lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing can help you fight fatigue and feel less short of breath. For example, when you are performing any kind of activity, be sure to exhale during the most difficult part of the activity using pursed-lips. If you are short of breath, stop and rest for a moment before resuming the activity.
  • Avoid unnecessary activities. Avoid doing unnecessary activities that will cause you to expend more energy. Wear a terry cloth robe after your bath or shower to save yourself the effort of drying off. Allow the dishes to dry by air instead of drying them by hand, or better yet, use the dishwasher. Sit instead of standing up to do your hair, shave or put on your makeup. According to the Canadian Lung Association, sitting uses 25% less energy that standing.
  • Organize your activities. Plan your most strenuous activities at the beginning of the day when you have the most energy. Alternate between tasks that are difficult and those that are easy. Plan out your rest periods and don't feel bad if you need more rest on one day than another.
  • Organize your closets, shelves and drawers. If you place the items that you use most frequently between waist and shoulder level, you won't have to do a lot of bending or stretching to reach them, thus conserving energy. Keep all items in the area that you use them to avoid extra walking to find them.
  • Keep duplicates of items used most frequently in conveniently located areas. For example, if you have a two-story house, keep one vacuum upstairs and one downstairs. Keep a trash receptacle in every room, so you don't have to walk into another room to discard trash.
  • Cook on Sunday for the entire week. Freeze extra portions in easy-to-use storage containers so you can just pop them into the microwave when you are ready to eat.
  • Invest in a rolling utility cart. This way, you can carry multiple items into another room without having to make two trips.
  • Use a shower seat and hand-held shower head when showering or bathing. If your shower is small, consider having something custom made.
  • Purchase cleaning equipment with long handles. This way, you don't have to bend over or reach too far when you use them.
  • Maintain good posture. If you use your body properly, you will save more energy. Avoid excess bending or lifting. Use proper body mechanics when trying to move items by pushing, pulling or sliding the item. Instead of carrying things, get yourself a little wagon or cart to wheel them.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. When you relax, you help restore energy to your body. Make sure to schedule relaxation periods during your day and when doing so, concentrate on relaxing all your muscles and slowing down your breath.
  • Ask for help when you need to. Delegate tasks that are too strenuous, like scrubbing floors or moving furniture. You'd be surprised to learn just how many people have no clue at how difficult things are for people with COPD, but who would be more than willing to help if you just ask them.
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