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Conserving Energy When You Have COPD or Other Chronic Conditions - Topic Overview

What does it mean to conserve energy?

Cooking dinner, putting away laundry, or even just walking across your living room can be exhausting when you have COPD, heart failure, or another long-term (chronic) condition. You may feel at times as though you've lost your ability to live your life.

Conserving, or saving, your energy means finding ways of doing daily activities with as little effort as possible. With some planning and tips, you can get tasks done more easily and enjoy your daily routine.

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, affects more than 12 million American adults. The term COPD includes two types of lung conditions: emphysema and bronchitis. Many people diagnosed with COPD have both emphysema and bronchitis. Together, the two reduce the amount of oxygen exchange in the lungs and thicken the lining of the airways. COPD is progressive and causes shortness of breath, wheezing, and chronic cough -- a persistent, phlegm-producing cough. People with COPD can have...

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How can you conserve energy in daily activities?

Plan activities

  • Make a list of what you have to do every day. Group the tasks by location, so you do all the chores you have in one part of your house around the same time.
  • Go out for errands or do chores at the time of day when you have the most energy.
  • Leave plenty of time to do tasks or get to events. That way you aren't rushed and breathless to get somewhere.
  • Include rest periods in your day.
  • Ask for help from family or friends for chores that are too tiring to do by yourself.

Getting around and doing activities

  • Move slowly when you walk or do an activity such as housework.
  • Sit down (on a high stool) as often as you can when you get dressed, do chores, or cook.
  • Use a raised toilet seat.
  • Use a cart with wheels to roll items, such as laundry, from one room to another.
  • Push or slide boxes or other large items instead of lifting them.
  • Limit the trips you take up stairs. If you can afford it, think about getting an electric lift to take you up the stairs. Or use a downstairs room for your bedroom so you won't have to take the stairs as much.

Reaching and grabbing items

  • Put things you use the most on shelves that are at the level of your waist or shoulder. Bending down and reaching up can make you tired quickly if you have trouble breathing.
  • Use long-handled grabbers or other tools to reach items on a high shelf or to pick up things off the floor.
  • Use long-handled dusters when you clean the house.
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