Related Items

Exercising with Chronic Lung Disease: Using the Dyspnea Scale

The Dyspnea Scale measures shortness of breath. While you exercise, think about how short of breath you feel. Notice how hard you are working to breathe. Then pick the number and words on the scale that best shows how you feel at your current level of effort. So if your shortness of breath is very slight, you’re at level 1. If you feel severely short of breath, you’re at level 5. If you can’t breathe at all, you’re at level 10. Use the Dyspnea Scale to help pace your workout. Unless your healthcare provider or pulmonary rehab team advises otherwise, try to keep your effort level around on the scale.

Signs of overexertion

Stop if you notice any of the signs below during exercise. If you’re at the pulmonary rehab facility, tell a team member how you’re feeling. If you’re exercising on your own, call your pulmonary rehab team or your healthcare provider. Watch for these signs:

  • Abnormal or increasing shortness of breath

  • Chest pain or discomfort

  • Burning, tightness, heaviness, or pressure in your chest

  • Abnormal pain in your shoulders, arm, neck, jaw, or back

  • A racing or skipping heartbeat

  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or nausea

  • Feeling much more tired than normal

  • Abnormal joint pain

Dyspnea Scale adapted by permission from American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, 2004, Guidelines for Cardiac Rehabilitation and Secondary Prevention Programs, 4th ed. (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics), 81.

Checking your heart rate

You may be told to check your heart rate during exercise. Press 2 fingers (not your thumb) on the inside of your wrist. Count the number of beats you feel for seconds. Multiply the number of beats by . This is your heart rate (the number of times your heart beats each minute). You’ll be told what the rate should be when you exercise. This number is your target heart rate.

My target heart rate: ___________________

© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
Powered by Krames Patient Education - A Product of StayWell