As COPD affects an individual’s physical activity beliefs and behaviours, focusing on this can be a useful way to introduce the topic


Ask permission

Ask permission to talk about either ‘physical activity’ or ‘something that can make a big difference to your future health and wellbeing’

Spending a moment to set the scene and asking permission can open a constructive person-centred conversation around behaviour change. This keeps the individual actively engaged in the conversation and decision making.


Assess impact

How has their disease affected their physical activity levels and the things they enjoy?

Supporting behaviour change is hard work! This resource is designed to help you navigate this challenging task.

Most people are ambivalent about, rather than resistant to, increasing their physical activity levels. There are pros and cons to both maintaining the same physical activity levels as well as increasing them. Your challenge is to help an individual to consider and share their own ‘pros’ for increasing their physical activity levels and help them to develop these ideas into a workable plan that fits into their life.

Try to understand the individuals own perspective, agenda and priorities and do not assume they:[1]

  1. ought to change
  2. want to change
  3. are primarily motivated by their health
  4. either ARE or ARE NOT motivated to increase their activity levels
  5. will respond well to a tough approach from you
  6. must (or will) follow your advice

Learning skills such as motivational interviewing can help you avoid common pitfalls that sometimes make conversations about behaviour change unrewarding and ineffective.


  1. Mason P, Rollnick S. Health behaviour change : a guide for practitioners. 2nd ed. /. London: : Churchill Livingstone 2010.

Explore benefits

What do they know about the benefits of physical activity in people with COPD?

As an individual is more likely to change if they can personally identify with the ‘pros’ for change, help them to identify how they might benefit from being more active. Find out what they know first so that you can add to their existing understanding by sharing some of the wide-ranging benefits of being more active.

Did you know?

Muscle strengthening, balance and coordination activities are recommended to be done on two days per week

National physical activity recommendations (adults)

  • 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity or both
  • Two episodes of strength building activity per week
  • If over 65 two additional balance training sessions per week
  • Break up sitting time

"I never exercised in the past, I didn’t know what the right way to exercise was"

Iversen MD, Scanlon L, Frits M, et al. Perceptions of physical activity engagement among adults with rheumatoid arthritis and rheumatologists. Int J Clin Rheumtol 2015;10:67–77. doi:10.2217/ijr.15.3

"You know you've got to do as much as you can, otherwise the next day your breathing will be worse."