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Cardiorespiratory Health and Telehealth Physiotherapy

Whether you have a pre- existing lung or heart condition such as COPD, asthma, recurrent pneumonia or cardiovascular disease, this can be a scary time! COVID-19 is primarily a cardiorespiratory illness that can cause severe acute respiratory syndrome, requiring blood pressure and oxygen support in moderate to severe cases; while those with pre- existing conditions are more at risk (1).

We all know it is highly contagious and despite best efforts for isolation, cleanliness and social distancing, it sure makes you think twice about heading out in public places.

Then to consider, you may already have concerns over your lung health with conditions such as COPD, asthma, cystic fibrosis, chronic smoking; or you have suffered from pneumonia previously. This can really make you pause before going out, or keep you housebound, and it may make you consider ways to promote or maintain your best lung and heart health.

Telephysio can be helpful in a number of ways here!

It may depend on your condition, in determining what you feel comfortable with and the level of safety you want to maintain for yourself, inside and outside the home.

1) Cardiorespiratory telephysio or tele rehab can provide you with individualised lung and breathing exercises, from the safety of your own home! We can assess your breathing rate, pattern, work of breathing, and determine if a level of conditioning exercise is safe and appropriate for you! As well as determine if you may need to seek further medical attention or not, saving you a visit to the clinic or hospital.

2) If you were currently attending or on the waitlist for pulmonary rehab, these supervised exercise routines and education on your condition can be provided to you from home via Telephysio. Again lowering your risk of being out in public or around health care centres unnecessarily. This is the same for those with cardiovascular health concerns, such as chronic heart failure, hypertensive heart disease, aortic aneurysms or other artery disease, which are at higher risk for a virus stressing your cardiovascular system.

3) Cardiorespiratory tele rehab can be done at home with simple exercises (without the need for gym equipment), that allow your body to optimise its use of oxygen through the vascular system.

These exercises can improve overall heart health, weight loss, blood sugar levels, energy levels and exercise endurance (2), which will improve your overall health and immunity!

4) For those with COPD, cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis or other mucus clearing respiratory conditions, you may have been taught clearance exercises in hospital, prior to this outbreak. If you are someone who has had a few hospital stays from exacerbation's of your condition, or are wanting to prevent an initial admission; there are exercises that can help you prevent build up, infection and subsequent hospital stays (3). Cardiorespiratory telephysio can maintain your airway clearance and improve your overall lung health.

Tele rehab can be useful even if you have a mild lung disease (think early stages or well managed) and don't want to risk getting the virus. In this case, telephysio is a great option for a number of injuries, whether they be recent injuries or long term issues that you now have time to focus on, with a rehab program designed for you. Even with conditioning exercises and programs we prescribe, you can maintain your endurance and fitness, as most of us have noticed a change in our "pre COVID" lifestyle and activity levels!

Natasha Prokop, Registered Physiotherapist

Natasha is a CardioRespiratory telephysiotherapist with extensive post-graduate training. Her goal is to treat people for cardio respiratory conditions using online physio (telephysio, telerehab) from the comfort of their home.



1 World Health Organization. Novel coronavirus — China. January 12, 2020 (

2 Heran  BS, Chen  JMH, Ebrahim  S, Moxham  T, Oldridge  N, Rees  K, Thompson  DR, Taylor  RS. Exercise‐based cardiac rehabilitation for coronary heart disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 7.

3 Jean Bourbeau, Diane Nault, Tam Dang-Tan, Self-management and behaviour modification in COPD, Patient Education and Counselling, Volume 52, Issue 3, 2004, 271-277.

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