Energy Conservation with Respiratory Recovery

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Recovering from respiratory illness can make even the simple things difficult to do.

Are you or your loved one low on energy or struggling with dyspnea after a planned surgery, unexpected hospitalization, or while recovering from COVID 19? There are general tips you can follow to maximize your productivity, while still allowing your body time to recover. 

Always consult your personal physician or therapist for personal needs (see the medical disclaimer), but here are some general tips!

Practical adjustments to help with recovery from general respiratory illness.


  • Place arm chairs in a couple strategic locations so you can sit quickly if you become tired: in your bathroom for grooming, in your bedroom for dressing, at the top or bottom of a staircase, near the kitchen sink, inside the door you come into from the car. The armrest provide trunk support and a push off for standing up. 
  • Keep items you use daily at waist height to minimize bending down and reaching up, which are more taxing to your body.
  • Avoid low chairs or soft couches that can require extra strength to get up out of. 
  • Minimize or adjust activities that cause you to lean over (sit to put on shoes and bring your foot to your opposite knee, sit down to put the leash on your dog).

Consider using a rolling cart for groceries, etc. (affiliate link)


  • Break up difficult tasks into multiple segments and spread them through the day (shower in the morning, get the mail in the afternoon).
  • Alternate a difficult task with an easy task: sit down to write a grocery list after doing laundry.
  • Do some activities seated that you might normally do standing (chopping vegetables, brushing teeth, ironing).
  • If you have a physician appointment or an errand to run, rest up before you go, and plan time to rest afterward.
  • Avoid early appointments, or plan ahead to limit stress and rushing, which depletes energy (lay clothes out the night before).


  • Wear supportive comfortable shoes, and loose fitting clothing that is easy to put on and take off (velcro shoes, limited buttons or fasteners in the back).
  • Improve your posture, as it leads to more efficient breathing.
  • Give yourself the permission to stop and take a few breaths if you feel winded or short of breath.  Also, make breathing a part of your exercise routine (per your clinician’s instructions). 
  • Take the time to read and follow all the recommendations from your health care team!!

Consider using grabber/reachers, as bending over can be taxing during recovery.

3 helpful questions to review if you are struggling with activity due to respiratory challenges:

  • What are your daily priorities?
  • What are ways you can simplify those tasks?
  • What might prevent you from following your health instructions?

Clinicians: want a helpful list with all the information? Here is a FREEBIE for you! A printable handout that you can use with your patients for education and compliance! If you find this helpful, please see my PREMIUM RESOURCES PAGE, where you can access and use over 50 educational handouts and counting, for an inexpensive fee!

Right click and save to desktop to print. Handouts are made to print well in B/W.

You may also want to check out these posts:

Better Breathing

Evidence Based Information on Pulmonary Rehabilitation

10 Tips and 20 Foods that may Help Recover Lung Health

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