Overview

Virginia is one of more than 900,000 people in Ontario whose breathing is challenged each day by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

COPD is a debilitating condition that includes two major lung diseases, emphysema and chronic bronchitis, and is primarily caused by smoking. In these instances, tobacco smoke narrows the air passages and causes chronic swelling in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe.

Chronic lung disease, like COPD, is the fourth leading cause of death, responsible for the longest hospital stays and most frequent readmission rates in Ontario, making it one of the most significant chronic health burdens.

Chronic lung disease, like COPD, is the fourth leading cause of death, responsible for the longest hospital stays and most frequent readmission rates in Ontario, making it one of the most significant chronic health burdens.

Pulmonary rehabilitation can make a difference in the lives of those living with COPD and other lung conditions by helping them focus on improving muscle strength and learning breathing techniques to cope with breathlessness and improve aerobic fitness. The proven benefits for patients include reduced flare-ups (less hospital/emergency room visits) and increased mobility.

However, only 1.2 per cent of patients have access to pulmonary rehabilitation and even fewer have access to on-going, supervised exercise maintenance activities that will help them better manage their disease and stay active.

Understanding the benefits of this type of rehabilitation, The Lung Association developed and implemented Fitness for Breath, an innovative respiratory exercise maintenance program for those with COPD and other chronic lung diseases such as severe asthma and pulmonary fibrosis.

This program it not intended to replace rehabilitation, but was rather designed as a resource for people to continue their exercise routine post-rehabilitation. In partnership with fitness centres and the support of pulmonary rehabilitation programs, it has been introduced across the province.

Fitness partners include YMCA’s or other municipally run / community based fitness facilities. We have trained more than 70 fitness staff and there are now close to 200 people participating in this program province –wide.

We currently have more than 20 Fitness for Breath programs running in community fitness centres across Ontario. These programs are located in each region of the province.

Fitness for Breath classes are supervised by qualified and trained fitness staff. Classes are designed to work with people at any fitness level and ability and can include:

  • Aerobic Excersises
  • Resistance/Strength Training
  • Flexibility Exercises

Being able to exercise in whatever capacity they can, Fitness for Breath teaches people how to manage their COPD resulting in fewer hospitalizations and improved quality of life.

Virginia has been participating in Fitness for Breath for one year now, attending classes three days a week. She says her health has improved and she can do pretty well anything. “I thank this program for that.”

We currently have more than 20 Fitness for Breath programs running in community fitness centres in every region of Ontario. Fitness partners include YMCA’s or other municipally run / community-based fitness facilities. We have trained more than 70 fitness staff and there are now close to 200 people participating in this program province –wide.

Fitness for Breath is made possible thanks to funding by the Government of Ontario.

“I’m so appreciative to be doing cardio and strength training in a safe setting. I’m now able to expand my lungs and breathe a little bit better than I have for a long time. The fact that so many can join with health issues and be able to learn and work to their capabilities and beyond is wonderful.” -Fitness for Breath participant

Fitness for Breath Goals
1

Encourage an inactive population to become active for life, increasing their exercise tolerance

2

Create understanding around the health benefits of exercise

3

Improve participants' activity and daily function, including less shortness of breath

4

Improve physical literacy and fundamental movement skills, which can be transferred to their daily lives

5

Provide an accessible and safe exercise environment

6

Strengthen the community recreation sector