COPD Patient Runs NYC Marathon to Inspire Others to Exercise

COPD Patient Runs NYC Marathon to Inspire Others to Exercise

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a condition that causes shortness of breath and fatigue, and the majority of patients experience these symptoms even when doing simple, basic activities. But Russell Winwood is not letting his Stage IV COPD diagnosis prevent him from overcoming obstacles — Winwood recently finished the New York Marathon, underscoring his belief in the importance of exercise in managing the disease.

Stage IV COPD means that the disease is advanced and the patient has less than 30% lung function, severe shortness of breath, and extreme fatigue. Running may seem difficult or even impossible for most of these patients, but not to the 49-year-old Australian blogger. Winwood ran the Nov. 1, 2015, marathon in six hours and five minutes. The challenge aimed to empower others with respiratory disease to exercise, as well as to raise awareness of diseases like COPD.

“When I was first diagnosed I never thought I’d be able to do events like this. I’m living proof of what is possible when you lead a healthy, active lifestyle,” said Winwood, who is a NewLifeOutlook writer, community member and now an inspiration among the NewLifeOutlook|COPD community, in a press release. He is thought to be first person with a diagnosis of stage IV COPD to complete a marathon.

Beginning in Staten Island and continuing on into Manhattan, the COPD patient ran 26 miles, the fulfillment of a challenge that was initiated long ago. During the entire process, Winwood and his team raised more than $10,000 to support the work of the American Lung Association, while also sparking discussions about the difference exercise can make in managing the disease. But his mission is not finished yet: the team filmed the marathon preparation and run for a documentary titled “COPD: A Marathon for Life,” which is expected to to be released next year and shine a light on COPD and other respiratory diseases.

The importance of exercise to patients with respiratory conditions is becoming the focus of increasing attention. A recent review on exercise and COPD, published in the Polish Archives of Internal Medicine, looked at the challenges in identifying physical activity for COPD patients, the benefits of exercise in improving their physical activity, and effects of COPD exacerbation on the physical capabilities in those with COPD. The review, entitled “They can’t bury you while you’re still moving: a review of the European Respiratory Society statement on physical activity in COPD,” underscores the need for physical exercise as a means of managing patient outcomes for those with COPD.

One comment

  1. Geoff Sykes says:

    I am truly in awe of Russell and his achievements. As a “fraternity” member of this most undesirable society I am well aware of how difficult the completion of the marathon must have been – particularly in consideration to his advanced stage of illness.
    I am also very very grateful to Russell for his efforts in focusing the worlds attention to the condition; it is not “one” of the glamour diseases as is the case with heart surgery/cancer etc and therefore does not receive the same dedication to research and funding as some of the others – yet as we know it is one of the worlds foremost killers.
    Sadly – with this disease, there is no warning, it creeps upon you in a similar way to “old age” and performance is often masked and excused by that syndrome until it is too late. Experts will tell you “there is no cure”- there isn’t!!!, instead a progressive decline in which the body becomes more and more dependent upon artificial means for oxygenation and is highlighted by greater frequency of exacerbation and increased severity. It is as we have come to know one of the more hideous diseases and effects not just the patient through increased dependency.
    Furthermore it has been proven by Russell and others that exercise and continuous movement is the key to slowing down its progress and the availability of rehabilitation programs should never be underestimated – these are the most efficient methods for improved health. As a sufferer I bring attention to those times when on a particularly bad day -just like others, I have had to “will” myself into the shower “struggle” to get dressed appropriately because of a prior commitment then “drag” myself out the door to travel to my appointment. Efforts which at times seem gargantuan, yet can be filled with great rewards. I know through questioning Russell previously that he is not a stranger to these “bad moments” but has the inner strength to fight his way through them and experience the rewards – the point is there are times when “it all seems too tough” and the temptation is to buckle under and give-in and it is in those moments when fighting through the illness that we gain the most.
    So thank you Russell for showing us that “it can be done” by everyone in their own way. As we all know a profound journey always begins with small steps.

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