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She walks from the bathroom to the living room and is out of breath. she smoked for 53 years but quit 13 years ago.

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Actually, the lighter aerobic exercise on the bike really is a good idea for COPD, it helps the body do more with less oxygen and provides a little gentle strengthening or at least slows down muscle loss. I do classes where I am not the youngest in there and can't necessarily do all of it - most good instructors encourage people to do the part they can and advance to doing more as/if they are able.

I have heard for some folks that a LITTLE butter is not bad, it may have at least small amounts of fats that are more helpful than harmful; margarines with trans fats, typically hard at room temperature, probably are much worse for you. I find it easy to skip butter and buttery spreads altogether; as butter itself is not a taste I'm crazy about, and when you are not used to it, you actually taste it rather than having it enhance the flavor of the food you put it on. Since I need to be on a low fat diet (I can't do low carb), I'll just use a little bit of Smart Balance Light maybe a few times a week instead.
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Regarding butter, it's the real thing, only ingredient is cream. Look at all the ingredients in margarines. My parents use margarine and it takes forever to melt on toast or hot vegetables and there is almost no taste.... it's like, why even bother using it. A little dab of the real thing taste so good :)
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Does she have dementia? My grandmother would claim she could not walk for weeks the out of the blue get up and walk.
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I think its great she is doing at least some kind of exercise. time and patience to improve her breathing. and to answer the butter question, it is natural and gets broken down by the body, not like margarines. ever do a melt test under hot water. put butter on a knife and margarine on a knife, run under hot water. see which ones dissolves the fastest.
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James, I'm curious why you would include butter but omit other dairy foods? Butter is load with fat.
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James, so if Suessfan's mother follows your regimen we can be confident she'll be in great shape by the time she's 111? I'm being a little flippant, I know; but to be serious I don't think your circumstances when you were 58 and those of this lady, now aged 81, are usefully comparable.

Suessfan, I wonder are you feeling a little impatient with your mother, in that it seems that if she can spin along on the bike so happily she ought to be putting her back into walking a little more? Or are you just puzzled about what makes the difference?

Does she have joint pain, back pain or arthritis, by the way?

For me, the key question is balancing what's good for her with what she is happy and comfortable doing. Of course I agree that encouraging her to improve her mobility, improve her lung function (I'm a smoker, you won't hear me criticising her) as far as possible, and improve her muscle tone are all great; but go easy. Having fun is a great motivator, as are freedom from pain and ease of movement. Does she enjoy singing? How about a little ladylike swimming, if you have access to a nice pool? The more she exercises the better she will feel; but I think it's a mistake to get tyrannical about it.
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I got very winded after having cancer surgery.... never could figure out why as I wasn't that way before the surgery. Apparently my blood pressure went up due to the stress, thus I was placed on blood pressure pills.... after a couple of months it was much easier to walk.

This might be something that suessfan1958's mother should have her doctor check.
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Her doctor should be asked this question.
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There are certain lifestyle changes that she can make to improve her over all health. No Animal Products (Pork & Red Meat) no dairy products except butter, use Soy or Almond milk. No Carbonated Drinks, no food from cans, Use Frozen and fresh Veg & Fruit. Nothing with the word "DIET" in the name. Fish and chicken breast no shell fish. Low or no gluten. The body will heal itself in a year or two. I know I do this for the last 30 years, and I am 88
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TorieJ, your suggestions are good and would be helpful if Suessfan's mother weren't 81 and didn't have a history of smoking. Her mother is working out at home; whether Suessfan' is monitoring her vital functions hasn't been stated.

I've found that some doctors do not encourage more aggressive home exercise for older folks, without monitoring through in-home PT, because of possible complications. Pulmonary rehab in a hospital (as our hospital provides) is safer than pushing herself at home.

I think a spinning class would be totally out of the question for an 81 year old woman with a history of smoking - she doesn't need to compete with younger people.
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2 miles on an exercise bike isn't very much exercise - even if it is done at an aerobic pulse rate and with good tension on the bike. How long does it take Mom to go the 2 miles? She may be barely getting any kind of workout. She is better off going according to time and pulse rate, using some tension on the wheels but not a great amount.

Also, the bike uses different muscles than walking, and if your Mom isn't doing her biking for very long or at a good pulse rate, she has neither developed the right muscles nor the breathing capacity to allow her to walk without difficulty. In walking, she is moving the weight of her entire body. In biking, she is moving only her legs.

While using an exercise bike, or going to a spinning class can be great aerobic exercise, it has to be done correctly, and at the correct pulse rate. If your goal is to have Mom walk for longer distances, then she needs to walk several times a day to build up the correct muscles.
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I think it's great that she's riding - keep it up and consider going longer or slightly increasing the resistance. It's also important to do some easy balancing exercises if possible. Start by holding onto something and then lift one foot of the floor. Falls are the number 1 safety issue we want to avoid.
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There's also the issue of physics. A body moving through air encounters resistance, albeit small, which causes the lungs to work harder, especially in an older person or someone with a compromised lung capacity, which your mother may have due to long term smoking.

She can improve her lung capacity with specific exercises; ask her pulmonologist about a pulmonary exercise program, use a spirometer, have her do deep breathing exercises - all will help improve her lung capacity.

She can also walk slower when she's moving around, stopping and doing some deep breathing before she becomes breathless.

Singers breathe differently - it's a practiced and controlled method of breathing which increases capacity - just watch an opera singer!
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Exercise bikes are aerobic. They put in more oxygen than they take out, because there is no weight bearing there and good range of motion. Cardiac rehab puts you on aerobic workouts. Non aerobic work happens when you lift weights, and your body is a lot of weight.
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