Exercising with COPD? Eberhard Jordan wants to climb high, despite his illness

Eberhard Jordan has stage 4 COPD, which is the end-stage of this disease. Even so, exercise is part of his regular routine. But just exercising isn’t enough. He set a personal challenge for World COPD Day of climbing the Danube Tower in Vienna. This is a climb of 776 steps, the equivalent of more than 50 storeys. In an interview he explains what drives him to do this and how he plans to achieve this athletic challenge with COPD.

PARI blog: Mr Jordan, you have COPD. How are you doing?

Eberhard Jordan: I will give you a cheeky answer: “I am doing well.’ (laughs) I get up in the morning and think it’s a beautiful day, even, by the way, if it’s raining. I ramble through every day content. In 2014 I was fighting for my life. Today I fight to see if I couldn’t perhaps do 5 kilometres a bit faster and whether I can’t build a bit more muscle mass. In this respect, I am doing great.

PARI blog: That is lovely. But why were you fighting for your life in 2014?

Eberhard Jordan: That is when I had my total health breakdown. I ended up in intensive care where the doctors diagnosed end-stage COPD. After I was discharged from the hospital, I wasn’t even able to walk 10 metres without help and I was afraid to leave the house alone. The situation was terrible and very different from today, when I feel confident even setting athletic challenges for myself.


PARI blog: You are alluding to your COPD challenge, for which you want to climb the Danube Tower in Vienna, right? What does that involve?

Eberhard Jordan: Right.On the occasion of World COPD Day I will climb the Danube Tower in Vienna. My motivation for this campaign is to get more public awareness of the disease. I also want to show that people can be active even if they have COPD, and to communicate that exercise is an important part of COPD treatment. In 2018, I set myself a personal COPD challenge and climbed the 343 steps of the south tower of the St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. This year I am setting the bar higher and climbing the Danube Tower. That will be 776 steps.

PARI blog: How are you preparing to climb the 776 steps?

Eberhard Jordan: For the past four months, I have been training once a week with my physiotherapist specifically doing steps.At every training session I climb 760 to 1,000 steps. I also exercise at home three times a week: endurance training on an ergometer, strength training with barbells and a Theraband, mobility and agility training and respiratory muscle training.

PARI blog: Will you succeed in climbing the Danube Tower? How will you do it?

Eberhard Jordan: It’s looking good at the moment. The key to being successful will be the pace. I can’t go too fast. My physiotherapist and my doctor will be with my during the challenge. My physiotherapist will set the pace. I will concentrate on his feet and on breathing so that I make sure I am breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth regularly and consistently using the pursed lip breathing technique and I will climb behind my physiotherapist. I will meditate up the steps in a way. My doctor will be with me to monitor my condition and in case of emergency. With 776 steps and COPD, oxygen deficiency can indeed become an issue, so my doctor will have oxygen on hand in case I need it.

PARI blog: You mentioned earlier that respiratory muscle training is part of your training regimen. What is respiratory muscle training?

Eberhard Jordan: For my respiratory muscle training I exhale using what is called a PEP system, which helps me empty my lungs of air. Because of the COPD, too much old inhaled air stays in my lungs, which I can’t exhale normally. Using the PEP system I can get this old air out of my overinflated lungs and then get fresh air in better. That helps me.

PARI blog: What other therapies do you for your COPD?

Eberhard Jordan: I inhale medications using three different metred-dose inhalers twice a day. To do this, I use a holding chamber. I feel like I can inhale more deliberately with it and the medication gets into my lungs better and more completely.

PARI blog: In your opinion, why is treatment important?

Eberhard Jordan: I can only advise everyone to take their medications, to do respiratory muscle training with the PEP and to exercise. If you do this you can maintain or even improve your health. This has improved my quality of life even more.

PARI blog: Mr Jordan, thank you for talking to us and best of luck with your COPD challenge.

About Eberhard Jordan:

Eberhard Jordan was diagnosed with COPD in 2000. He has had stage 4 COPD since 2014. Since 2017, he has been writing a blog on the topic of Active Living with COPD. He also has a second blog with updates on his myCOPD Challenge campaign.On this blog he works to increase public awareness of the serious lung disease COPD.

Notes: Photos incl. header image provided by Eberhard Jordan. Photographers: Christoph Hopf, Andreas W. Rausch, Inka Schleicher.

The statements made in the interview are the individual views of the interviewee. They do not necessarily reflect the PARI view or the general state of science.

An article written by the PARI BLOG editorial team.

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