Exercise, COPD & Me

In partnership with COPD Support Ireland, Siel Bleu Ireland has developed a community based exercise programme to improve the health and wellbeing of Irish adults living with COPD.


What is COPD?


COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is the umbrella term for Chronic Lung Disease. For most people with COPD, less air flows in and out of their airways, causing shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing.

COPD in Ireland 


According to COPD Support Ireland, there are approximately 380,000 people living with COPD in Ireland, however from this 380,000 there are only 110,000 people who have been diagnosed. COPD is the 4th leading cause of death in Ireland, accounting for 5% of all deaths. There is a huge unmet need for all elements of COPD management in Ireland. There are many hospital-based pulmonary rehabilitation programmes across the country, however there is a series deficit in community based programmes for post rehab care.

Exercise and COPD


Exercise is vital for people living with COPD. It can be common for people with COPD to abstain from exercise due to the anxiety related to breathlessness and difficulty in breathing. This can then result in an increase sedentary lifestyle, further functional deterioration and increase in health costs.

Exercise programmes designed specifically for those with COPD can lead to:

  • Increased functional capacity
  • Improved health outcomes
  • Decreased anxiety around breathlessness
  • Greater Independence

Addressing The Unmet Need


In order to bridge the gap between the current availability if COPD programmes and the need, through introductions made by Boehringer-Ingelheim, Siel Bleu Ireland and COPD Support Ireland created the “Exercise, COPD & Me” project.

Designed in conjunction with Professor Tim McDonnel, HSE COPD Clinical Programme Lead and Shakila Devi Perumal, lead pulmonary physiotherapist, St. Michael’s Hospital Dun Laoighre.

The programme was designed with the following goals in mind:

  • Improve the physical, Psychological and Social wellbeing of participants
  • Increase/Maintain functional capacity
  • Produce a cost effective, peer supported, community based programme
  • Maintain independence, postural control, balance & improve social connections
  • Measure the effects of a programme like this on people with COPD

Exercise, COPD & Me – Stage One  


Funded by Boehringer Ingelheim, Stage One took place in four locations (Bray, Ballyfermot, Louth and Waterford) over a 12 week period, where participants were assessed pre and post the interventions.

The results of the programmes showed that the Exercise, COPD & Me project had a positive impact on the participants and was able to reach the goals of the project.



Stage One results included:

  • 70% of participants showed an increase in Muscle Strength
  • 70% of participants showed an increase in Agility
  • 70% of participants showed an increase in Flexibility
  • 86.6% of participants showed an increase in Aerobic Endurance

The findings of the study show that the goals of the programme have been met. The 12 week programme had a high attendance throughout the course, which was down to the commitment from the participants.  The participants worked hard in every session and self-managed their condition very well, which in turn helped them to grow in confidence in relation to their capabilities and limitations.

Upon completion of the funded 12-week programmes, participants continued paying for the classes themselves, and therefore making positive steps towards managing their own health.

Exercise, COPD & Me – Stage Two 


In October 2015, Siel Bleu Ireland received funding from the Medtronic Healthy Communities Fund to expand the Exercise, COPD & Me project to eight new groups across Ireland between Nov 15 and Nov 16. New groups will take place over a 6 month period with testing pre, post as well as during the exercise programmes. The classes will be held in conjunction with the local COPD Support Ireland groups in Sligo, Mayo, Ennis, Cork and four additional groups in Dublin.

Exercise, COPD & Me – In your region 


If you would like to set up an Exercise, COPD & Me group in your region please do not hesitate to contact our head office, where we would be delighted to discuss the possibility with you.