The aim of the study is to explore the experiences of inpatients with an acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, who participated in a very early exercise programme while acutely unwell. This qualitative study analysed responses from participant interviews as part of a mixed method trial whereby participants were randomly allocated into three groups: low intensity, moderate to high intensity aerobic and resistance exercises or a control group who received routine physiotherapy. Everyone allocated to the exercise groups were invited to participate in the qualitative study. Interviews were within a week post discharge and the results were analysed thematically. A total of 19 participants were interviewed and described their experience as positive and beneficial and reported an increased motivation towards exercising. These findings converged with the high levels of exercise adherence (83%) and within-group improvements in walking capacity observed in both exercise groups. Participants also reported commencement of a home exercise programme after discharge but intention to participate in community pulmonary rehabilitation remained low. Participation in a very early exercise programme while acutely unwell can lead to positive attitude towards exercise. The results converge with the quantitative results that provided preliminary evidence of programme feasibility and within-group improvement in exercise tolerance.