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COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

Why Do Some Exercises Hurt?



I am 50 years old and live along Sydney`s coastline. I have emphysema. I am able to walk two miles along my local beach (for three hours each day) without effort yet ascending a single flight of stairs leaves me gasping for air. I am of slight build. Can you explain why walking long distances is fine, but ascending the stairs is quite difficult ?


Thanks for your question. Walking up stairs is more work than walking at a slow pace; in fact it burns probably twice as many calories depending on the speed of walking. If you have emphysema, one way to increase your exercise tolerance would be to look into pulmonary rehabilitation programs near you. 

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Response by:

Karen L Wood, MD Karen L Wood, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University