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COPD Energy Conservation: Building and Sustaining Energy with COPD

Energy is defined as the “ability to be active: the physical or mental strength that allows you to do things”. Inogen values the ability to be active for users of medical oxygen. Those users know not to take that physical or mental strength for granted, because it can be elusive when you are living with a breathing condition.

copd energy conservation

When living with COPD, energy becomes even more important than it seemed before. The key is building it, sustaining it, and conserving it, and this can be achieved via a series of smart lifestyle decisions.

It’s about eating properly to have energy, sleeping properly to build energy, and exercising when you have it. Energy and breathing go hand and hand, and Inogen’s goal is that its users have plenty of both.


The Inogen Better Breathing Blog always stresses the importance of a proper diet and eating the right foods for COPD energy conservation.

While plenty of foods will satisfy hunger immediately, foods with protein tend to provide energy for longer. Those foods include:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Legumes and nuts
  • Fish and poultry
  • Low fat or fat-free dairy products

Protein is to be sought out, but any foods that cause bloating should be eaten in moderation or avoided altogether.

Foods that tend to cause bloating also complicate breathing because of the pressure put on the diaphragm. More energy is expended by your body to keep a steady breathing rate, and so you’re likely to get exhausted quicker.


This list of foods includes some of the most common foods that cause bloating, but everyone reacts differently to different foods. So it’s important to know how your own body is feeling after eating different foods.


As with eating, getting proper sleep comes down to many little decisions. And it’s common among Americans to not get the necessary 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.

The American Thoracic Society reports that sleep disturbances are highly prevalent among people with COPD, with as many as 50% of all COPD patients reporting some type of significant sleep problem. There’s no easy fix, because COPD patients have to consider their breathing, their medical oxygen, and any other number of bodily triggers. But for many of them, there’s an untapped source of energy sitting right there in the bedroom.

Sleep and/or rest are the most natural sources of energy, hence their importance. Many of our favorite drinks that give us energy, like soda and coffee, are artificial and have negative side effects – one of which is that they keep you up at night!

It’s not easy to just hop into bed at an earlier hour and all of a sudden get your necessary hours. Here are a few tips on how to get to bed earlier:

  • Establish a consistent sleep and wake time; stick to it, even on your days off.
  • Create a regular sleep ritual; take a hot bubble bath or read a steamy novel right before bed.
  • Fashion an environment conducive to sleep.  Keep your room dark and quiet; this means no TV!
  • Exercise regularly doing something you enjoy; avoid exercise at least 3 hours before bedtime.


Studies have shown that when you have COPD, regular physical activity can: decrease anxiety, reduce fatigue, and relieve shortness of breath. As a result, exercising becomes important for improving overall breathing, and energy is what you need in order to exercise regularly. Diet and sleep cannot be understated, because of the role they play in helping you build and sustain as much energy as possible.


BONUS: How to conserve energy from the Cleveland clinic. Use these tips to round out your plan for building and sustaining more energy.

Every person needs energy to go about his or her day. But COPD patients face a special challenge when it comes to energy. Everyday functions like getting around the house, or even breathing, become more exhaustive. That is why it is so important to know what saps your energy and what boosts your energy. Eating properly, sleeping properly, and exercising will get you a long way toward better energy and better overall breathing!


American Thoracic Society. Sleep Quality in COPD. 2014.
R GarrodE Paul, and J WedzichaSupplemental oxygen during pulmonary rehabilitation in patients with COPD with exercise hypoxaemia. Thorax. Jul 2000; 55(7): 539–543. doiPhoto Credit: Flickr, Treadmill
Photo Credit : Broccoli, Flickr, Steven Lilley



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