It’s extremely important that your oxygen concentrator is able to deliver the amount of oxygen you need at any given time. This amount, which is determined by your doctor, will fluctuate depending on how you are breathing. We aren’t always breathing the same way at different points throughout the day. Your breathing will change while you are sleeping, and it will change while you are doing something even slightly physically exerting, like walking from room to room in your house. It definitely changes when you are exercising.
This fluctuation is why a reserve capacity is important in an oxygen concentrator. Your concentrator might be able to sufficiently meet your oxygen therapy needs, and keep you saturated while you are breathing at rest, but without a good reserve capacity, it won’t deliver enough oxygen while you are breathing heavily from walking up a few flights of stairs.
When you begin breathing more heavily, a portable concentrator with a good reserve capacity will kick in and supply you with more oxygen as you breathe. Depending on how much oxygen you need to begin with, you may need a much bigger reserve capacity.
How much more oxygen will I need?
Everyone is different. If you plan on exercising, you will definitely need to talk to your doctor beforehand to figure out exactly how much more oxygen you need while exerting yourself. This is one important reason for going to a respiratory therapist, even if you only go for a few weeks.
Your respiratory therapist will be able to tell you exactly how much more oxygen you need while doing your exercise routine, which they have designed just for you. As long as your doctor approves, exercising will help keep you healthy, as long as you are getting the amount of oxygen you need while doing it.
This is one of the dangers you will most likely run into if you tried to purchase an oxygen concentrator from a non accredited retailer or private seller, because they may not be able to tell you if it has the reserve capacity that you need.
Another scenario where you would need to tap into your oxygen reserve, is if you are having an exacerbation. An exacerbation is what a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) flare up is referred to. When you have an exacerbation, your lungs are unable to take in as much oxygen as they could before. This is the same effect as exercising would have, only in a negative way.
Of course, you should contact your doctor at the first sign of an exacerbation, but your oxygen concentrator should be able to deliver the oxygen you need during this time, until you can be treated or hospitalized.