Pulmonary Rehabilitation (PR) is a medically supervised program that uses exercises, including special breathing exercises, to help you be more active with less shortness of breath. It can be a helpful way to try minimize the impact of respiratory conditions.  

PR involves a long-term commitment from the patient and a team of health care providers. The PR team may include doctors, nurses, and specialists. Specialist include respiratory therapists, physical and occupational therapists, dietitians or nutritionists, and psychologists or social workers. It may seem like a lot, but when it comes to health, the right team of people working together can be huge help.  

PR: The Timeline


When you begin PR, your rehab team will take a look at your abilities and needs and make a plan that’s right for you. After you plan is created, you’ll probably go to PR weekly. You’ll also be encourage to incorporate your plan into your routine at home, including exercises and lifestyle changes.


Most PR programs last a few months. Your personal PR plan may include exercise, nutrition, education, energy conserving techniques, breathing strategies, counseling and group support.


After a few months, you’ll be tested to measure the effects PR has on your breathing, your symptoms, exercise level, and quality of life. Depending on the results, you will be encouraged to continue what you’ve learned on your own or talk to your doctor if there has been little to no improvement.

PR: The Plan


Starts with monitored exercise, 3 times a week. The PR team may design exercises for both arms and legs.


Teachings on how to manage symptoms, especially what to do with an infection or if symptoms suddenly worsen. Education about vaccinations, smoking cessation, how to take a medication correctly, and how to use oxygen when needed.


Strategies to improve breathing will be taught, such as pursed-lip breathing. Learning how to control breathing, keeping the airways open longer.


The PR team may recommended a healthy eating plan based on weight. Being underweight or overweight can make it harder to breathe.


Helpful tips for relieving stress and accomplishing everyday activities that may make it harder to breathe.


Some people with respiratory conditions may be prone to depression, anxiety, and other emotional problems. Help may be found with counseling or support groups.

PR: The Benefits

Improve your quality of life

Help you function better in daily life

Increase your ability to exercise

Decrease symptoms of your disease or condition

Help manage anxiety and depression

If you have shortness of breath because of lung problems, you may have asked yourself:

Can I exercise or should I avoid exercise because it makes me short of breathe?

How can I get in better shape and have more energy if I am short of breath every time I try to exercise?

What Medications do I really need to take?

Pulmonary Rehabilitation can help answer these and other questions. Enrolling in a pulmonary rehabilitation program may reduce your shortness of breath and increase your ability to exercise. You may heard that pulmonary rehabilitation is only for people with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). We now know that people with other lung conditions such as pulmonary hypertension and interstitial lung disease can benefit as well.

How can I find a PR Program & What will it cost?

Ask your health care provider for a referral to a qualified program. Programs are often offered in an outpatient facility.

The cost to you and insurance coverage of pulmonary rehabilitation can vary greatly.

Medicare covers pulmonary rehabilitation for COPD, providing you meet certain requirements. Medicare covers rehabilitation for other lung conditions.

The pulmonary rehabilitation program coordinator can tell you if you qualify and what the cost to you will be.

Close Menu