PATIENTS with breathing difficulties are benefiting from the launch of a new exercise class in Tiverton.
The hour-long sessions take place in the gym at Tiverton and District Hospital each Monday and Tuesday and are aimed at maintaining fitness levels and preventing admissions to hospital.
Patients use exercise bikes, weights, trampettes and other equipment in the hospital gym to boost their fitness and breathing.
The classes, run by physiotherapists at the hospital, are believed to be one of the first of their kind in the country.
To join the class, patients must have been referred by their GP or respiratory nurse and completed a pulmonary rehabilitation course, which lasts for seven weeks and includes a mixture of exercise and education.
Karen Sharpe, physiotherapy team leader in Tiverton, said: "The patients really enjoy it.
"It maintains their exercise levels, keeps them motivated and helps to keep them out of hospital.
"The classes also help from a social point of view, especially in the winter when people can feel isolated."
There are plans to expand the Tiverton classes in the future, while a similar group is set to start in Okehampton in January.
A separate support group for Mid Devon people with respiratory conditions is also set to be launched in January.