Walking is a good form of cardiovascular exercise. The walking program is designed to help you increase your endurance gradually and to strengthen your heart and lungs. Consider the following guidelines in establishing your walking routine:
- Pick a convenient time to walk. Stick to that time.
- Walk on level ground.
- Walk continuously (without rests) if possible.
Walk at an even pace.
- Let your arms swing. Don't carry anything.
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothing.
- If you experience exercise fatigue, shortness of breath, or dizziness, REST, and decrease the amount of walking the next day.
- Avoid extremes of weather.
- Avoid exercising right after a big meal.
- Follow the recommended schedule.
How fast should I walk?
In the beginning, walk at a pace that you feel comfortable. When you reach 20 minutes per day, then start and end your walks with a five minute warm-up and cool-down, increasing your pace in between. If you use the Borg scale of breathlessness, walk at a perceived breathlessness of about 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. If you use the Borg scale of perceived exertion, walk at an intensity of 11–13 out of 20 for the first 6 to 8 weeks following surgery. After that, if you are not limited by breathlessness, you may walk at an intensity of 13–15.
What about outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation?
Outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation may be indicated following surgery. It is a good way to provide structure to your exercise program, to obtain further monitoring, education, and group support, and to begin a more vigorous strengthening and cardiovascular exercise routine. Proper strengthening is important in helping to overcome the effects of the immunosuppressive regimen and to improve your overall functioning in daily life. Ask your therapist about a pulmonary rehabilitation program near you, or call 212.305.0890, the outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation program at Columbia University Medical Center of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Participation in pulmonary rehabilitation will require a doctor's prescription. And you should check your insurance to see if it covers such a program.