An older woman holding a bouquet of flowers climbs the stairs with her husband close behind.

Pulmonary rehabilitation

Pulmonary rehabilitation in the Twin Cities and western Wisconsin

If you have chronic breathing issues that make it difficult to do everyday activities like walking up a flight of stairs or getting dressed, we can help. Pulmonary rehabilitation is a program that uses exercise and education to help people manage symptoms of their chronic lung conditions.

Our team of respiratory therapists, exercise physiologists, physical therapists and dietitians works with you to develop a personalized program that uses exercise, lifestyle education and diet to help improve your quality of life and ability to exercise. We work together with your primary care doctor or pulmonologist to make sure you receive the right care during every step of your rehabilitation.

Pulmonary conditions we treat

Pulmonary rehabilitation might be recommended to help you manage the symptoms of one of the following lung conditions:

  • Acute bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
  • Lung transplant
  • Restrictive lung disease
  • Pneumonia
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Pulmonary hypertension

What to expect during pulmonary rehabilitation

The goal of pulmonary rehabilitation is to promote healthy lifestyle changes and to help you learn the best ways to manage your lung condition. It can help you improve shortness of breath, fatigue, how much you can exercise and your quality of life.

We’ll start with an evaluation where we talk to you about your symptoms, treatment options and goals. We’ll work with you to help you fully understand your condition and create a personalized treatment plan based on your unique needs. It’s common for pulmonary rehabilitation programs to include a combination of:


Understanding your condition can help you manage your symptoms and build your confidence. During rehabilitation, we’ll teach you about your specific condition and different options for managing your symptoms. You’ll also learn other ways to improve your quality of life, including:

  • Breathing techniques
  • How to create a home exercise plan
  • How to manage feelings of panic or anxiety caused by shortness of breath
  • Proper use of supplemental oxygen
  • Techniques for secretion control
  • The purpose and use of common breathing medications and inhalers

Supervised exercise

During supervised exercise, we’ll monitor you while you exercise in our fitness center. We’ll check your oxygen levels, heart rate and other vital signs to determine how well your exercise plan is working. Your personalized fitness plan will include both aerobic and strength exercises. You’ll be able to use our exercising equipment, including treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical machines, NuStep seated stepper, free weights and other available equipment.

Nutritional consultation

Our team will perform a nutritional consultation so you have a better understanding of how diet affects your overall health. Food diaries are sometimes used to help us get a better understanding of your eating habits.

Breathing exercises

We’ll teach you breathing exercises and strategies that help improve your breathing. Breathing exercises help strengthen your respiratory muscles so your breathing is less labored during exercise, keep your airways open longer and increase the amount of airflow in your lungs. Strengthening your lungs will make physical activities and exercise easier.

Support and classes

Encouragement and support from family, friends and other people going through the same thing is key for successful rehabilitation. If needed, we can help connect you with support groups, classes or mental health services for you and your loved ones. We’re moving our classes online so we can connect virtually while maintaining a safe physical distance. For more information about class schedules or how to sign up, contact your preferred pulmonary rehabilitation location.

We offer the following groups and classes:

Supplemental oxygen classes

These free classes meet regularly each month and help you learn the basics of home oxygen use.

Better Breathers Club

The Better Breathers Club is a support group for people living with lung disease. We meet regularly to share our experiences and build a community.

Harmonicas for Health

Harmonicas for Health is a program of the COPD Foundation. Learn how to have better control of your breathing and exercise your breathing muscles while playing music. This fun group meets on a regular basis to practice and learn new songs.

A doctor’s referral is needed for pulmonary rehabilitation. You’ll also need pulmonary function testing before starting pulmonary rehabilitation. If your doctor has already referred you to pulmonary rehabilitation, you can choose a location to schedule an appointment. If you haven’t talked to a doctor about your lung health concerns, choose a doctor below to make an appointment with a pulmonologist.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)