What to Expect at Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Pulmonary rehabilitation helps you adapt to new ways of living to more effectively manage your pulmonary condition. Rehabilitation includes exercises that improve your muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance. We also provide guidance on nutrition and self-care tips, including how to recognize the first symptoms of respiratory infections.

We guide you through appropriate forms of exercise and gradually increase the intensity based on your age, diagnosis and activity level. Throughout your pulmonary rehabilitation sessions, we monitor your:

  • Heart rate and rhythm
  • Oxygen saturation levels
  • Blood pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Level of fatigue

You won't have to go through rehabilitation alone. You’ll be part of a small group of patients with lung disease who can give you the support and encouragement you need.

When it’s hard to breathe, it’s natural to feel anxious about exercising. At Cedars-Sinai, you can take comfort in knowing we have decades of pulmonary rehabilitation experience. We have been delivering pulmonary rehabilitation services since 1979.

We use our experience to deliver exceptional care and support to people with chronic lung diseases. We care for patients with a wide range of lung problems — some are just below optimal lung function while others need supplemental oxygen or are awaiting a lung transplant.

Your safety is important to us, which is why our program includes: 

  • Physician exam: A pulmonologist (lung doctor) specializing in pulmonary rehabilitation determines whether it’s safe for you to participate. Our pulmonologist performs a complete assessment, which includes a physical exam and review of tests and treatments you have received. 
  • Effective therapies: Our team includes a pulmonologist, exercise physiologist, pulmonary clinical nurse specialist and medical social worker. These experts help you work within your abilities to increase muscle strength and endurance. We regularly assess your exercise plan and make changes when necessary. This attention to detail helps you make steady progress toward your fitness goals.
  • Easy access: During rehabilitation sessions, our team is on the exercise floor where you are working out. We spend one-on-one time with you during each session, fine-tuning your care plan when needed. 

Your pulmonary rehabilitation will take place in a special gym with standard exercise equipment, including treadmills and free weights. Our pulmonary rehabilitation specialists help you have a safe experience by tailoring activities to your needs and abilities. You’ll attend rehabilitation a few times a week for six or nine weeks. 

After completing the program, we’ll give you instructions on how to exercise at home so you can maintain your progress. 

Our pulmonary rehabilitation specialists get to know you and your medical history. We may use a 6-minute walk test to assess your limitations and measure oxygen levels in your blood while you walk. This information helps us figure out the intensity and types of exercises that are right for you. 

Your personalized exercise training plan will include two types of exercise:

  • Cardiovascular training: These exercises build your cardiovascular fitness by improving your strength and endurance. We’ll train your body to use oxygen more efficiently, so your lungs don’t have to work so hard. We use different exercise equipment, including treadmills, recumbent bikes and ellipticals.
  • Weight training: Through weight resistance training, you’ll gain strength and muscle mass. These exercises also increase your bone density and improve your ability to balance so you’re less likely to fall. 

During each session, we discuss topics that are important to people living with lung disease, including breathing techniques and nutrition. Our goal is to help you feel your best during and after pulmonary rehabilitation. We welcome your questions so you can learn as much as possible. 

Many people with lung disease experience problems such as anxiety or depression. Our pulmonary rehabilitation specialists lend a caring ear and offer helpful tips to put your mind at ease. You also benefit from the experiences and support of your fellow patients — many of whom have been in your shoes.