Helping Clients Breathe

6 General Recommendations for Working with Clients with Respiratory Conditions.

Knowledge of the respiratory system and pulmonary function is fundamental for training the client with chronic conditions known as pulmonary disorders. These disorders are characterized by airflow obstruction, cardiovascular and muscular impairments, abnormalities of gas exchange, and psychological issues including fear and embarrassment that often accompany shortness of breath. Properly performed exercise can improve musculoskeletal and psychosocial factors that limit clients with pulmonary disease, allowing them to do more and complete a session or class comfortably.  Use the following quick tips when working with clients with compromised pulmonary function to provide a safe environment and an effective exercise session.

  1. It is important to do a longer warm up and cool down for clients with asthma, COPD, and other respiratory issues.
  2. Choose an appropriate, lower demand cardiorespiratory activity for beginner or compromised clients such as cycling or walking.  Switch to a lower demand exercise during periods of respiratory condition flare ups.
  3. Teach the client proper breathing techniques. There are breathing exercises such as “Pursed Lip Breathing” or “Diaphragmatic Breathing” that help with shortness of breath and the anxiety, fear, and embarrassment that may be present.
  4. Do not use continuous overhead arm work. This can cause the client fatigue by making the heart work harder.
  5. Incorporate resistance training, especially in the upper body to help improve stamina and function in the chest, upper back, shoulders, and arms.
  6. Do exercises in a well-ventilated area. Make sure room temperatures are not too low or too high for comfort.  Be aware of humidity and the presence of allergens or respiratory irritants that may be present in the exercise area.  Just opening windows during allergy season can cause an allergy or asthma attack.

Working with clients with respiratory difficulties can be scary at times, but also very rewarding.  Learn more about this population and about the etiology of respiratory conditions, and become a positive influence in their all important exercise efforts.

FCEA Founding Member

June has been serving the fitness industry since 1978.  She taught elementary physical education for 6 years before completing her Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology and Health Enhancement in 1985.  June served as president and owner of Health Enhancement and Fitness Services (a corporate and community wellness provider) for several years, and owned/managed Harrison Health and Fitness Center (a full service fitness facility) for 18 years.  She served as an Aquatic Exercise Association Training Specialist for 18 years, as Research Committee Chairperson, Edited the Aquatic Fitness Research Journal (a peer reviewed professional journal), and works as a certification education consultant.  She is recipient of the Aquatic Exercise Association 1995 Achievement Award and 2 time recipient of the Contribution to the Aquatic Fitness Industry Global Award.  June currently serves as adjunct Faculty at Cincinnati State College and has developed curriculum and taught several courses for their Health Fitness Technician degree program.  She is owner of Fitness Learning Systems, an educational company developing and providing continuing education for the health-fitness industry.

Author of: Applied Anatomy: Land & Water / Health Apparisal & Risk Assessment / Basic Measurement & Body Composition Assessment A Simple Study of Exercise & Caloric Consumption / Aquatic Personal Training Programming / WW: Upper Torso and Core.
Co-Author of: Introduction to Aquatic Personal Training / Kinesiology.

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