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New Breathe Well programs help people with COPD exercise safely

November 21, 2013 - 4:32 PM

KELOWNA – Today is World COPD Day and in Kelowna, Interior Health is celebrating a partnership with four recreation facilities to provide an adapted exercise class for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients.

“Go ahead and take a deep breath – that’s something most people take for granted. But for those with COPD, breathing is a challenge, and the idea of exercise can be too far out of reach,” said Premier Christy Clark, MLA for Westside-Kelowna.

COPD slowly damages and blocks the airways of the lungs. People with COPD often experience a long-lasting cough and serious shortness of breath.

“We know there are immense benefits to be gained from exercise, both physically and emotionally. The introduction of a specially adapted and supervised class is great news for those in the area who otherwise couldn’t drop by their community rec centre to work out,” said Steve Thomson, MLA Kelowna-Mission.

The new classes were launched in October and have been developed as part of the second phase of the Breathe Well program. Breathe Well was introduced earlier this year in Kelowna and seven other Interior Health communities to provide enhanced services for complex COPD patients most at risk for hospital admission.

“Statistics show within Interior Health the percentage of patients with COPD has climbed from 5.4 per cent in 2001 to 7.8 per cent in 2010 and continues to grow,” said Norm Letnick, MLA Kelowna-Lake Country. “When symptoms such as shortness of breath and coughing become severe, many patients often must access hospital emergency departments, which is why today’s announcement is a great example of a community-based program that will help improve patients’ quality of life and also avoid people from having to enter the hospital.”

Organizers hope the classes will help clients maintain the outcomes and benefits they achieve in the formal Pulmonary Rehabilitation program at Kelowna General Hospital.

“Moving to more community and primary care is, first and foremost, better for patients. It also helps manage escalating health care costs,” said Interior Health Board Chair Norman Embree.

Kelowna Physiotherapist Simone Manfredi designed and delivers the classes. “By exercising in a safe environment, patients are improving their health and overall wellbeing,” she said.

Participants experience fewer flare-ups, and have less need for oxygen and medications.  They also see mood improvement, increased general muscle strength, and decreased shortness of breath.

“The classes have been really well received and it’s great to see people enjoying themselves and supporting each other.”

The program is currently being offered at: H2O Adventure & Fitness Centre; the Kelowna Family Y in Rutland; the Parkinson Recreation Centre; and the Johnson Bentley Memorial Aquatic Centre in West Kelowna. They offer a mix of strength, stretching and cardio training. Physician approval is required prior to joining.

For more information about the Breathe Well program in Interior Health contact Regional Practice Lead Cory Bendall at (250) 558-1200 ext. 5657.

Further information about World COPD Day 2013 is available online at the World COPD Day Internet Headquarters at

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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