Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a lung disease that includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The condition causes coughing, wheezing, anxiety with shortness of breath and fatigue. For people with moderate to severe COPD, urgent visits to hospital are frequent and quality of life can be impacted.

The COPD Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at St. Joseph’s Health Centre Guelph (SJHCG) provides patients with the tools to help them take control of the disease and manage their symptoms through exercise training and education.

Exercise Training

A physiotherapist and respiratory therapist will assess each person’s individual goals and design an exercise program to meet their specific needs and abilities. The exercise training helps participants regain strength, increase energy and activity, and manage shortness of breath.

Education and Counselling

Education is provided on topics such as lung disease, how to use puffers and medication, home physical exercise, breathing techniques, healthy eating and managing flare ups, and advanced care planning.

The core outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation team is comprised of a respiratory therapist, physiotherapist, and physiotherapy assistant.

There are approximately 10-12 participants in the group. The group meets twice per week for 8 weeks (2.5 hours per session).

Eligibility and Referral

Adults who have a chronic obstructive lung disease, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis, or pulmonary fibrosis can all benefit from this program. In order to participate, clients need a referral from their physician or respirologist. This program is not appropriate for individuals with acute heart disease or dementia or those who are at a high risk for falls.

View Outpatient COPD Pulmonary Rehab Program Application (PDF, 184KB) for completion by a healthcare practitioner.

Getting Started

There are some medical tests needed to properly assess people for this program, including lung function tests. Other medical information may also be required. An assessment by a respirologist is needed to ensure all participants are on the correct medication and medically cleared to do the exercises. The program is offered at SJHCG as part of the Outpatient Physiotherapy Program.

Cost: $20 for educational materials, payable on the first day of the program

Program Completion

Once participants complete the 8-week program, they will be connected with a community program that supports those with chronic lung disease (i.e. YMCA or a Family Health Team). This helps to ensure people can maintain the gains they have achieved.


Speak to your physician about a referral to the Pulmonary Rehab Program at SJHCG.