How Breathing Exercises Benefit Your Lungs
Breathing is an essential part of our daily lives. By the time we hit our mid-20s, our lung capacity and lung function decrease, and the risks for certain chronic lung diseases, like COPD and asthma, are increased. Those recovering from COVID-19 often suffer significant lung damage, and regaining lung function can be quite challenging. There are, however, breathing exercises for pulmonary rehabilitation that can help increase lung capacity and improve lung function.
Certain breathing exercises help the lungs work more efficiently. If you have limited lung capacity, breath work can help restore diaphragm function. Deep breathing exercises can also relieve anxiety, stress management and improve sleep quality. These exercises have many benefits to not only lung health but also overall health and wellness.
Breathing Techniques to Improve Lung Health
There are several deep breathing techniques to help improve your lung health. These lung exercises can be done at home and help you breathing volume, the maximum amount of oxygen your body is able to use. Read how to perform these exercises safely.
If you have decreased lung function or are recovering from COVID-19, here is a list of precautions you should take when performing these exercises:
Do not begin these exercises if:
- You have a fever (a temperature of 98.6°F or higher)
- You have shortness of breath or difficulty breathing while at rest
- You have chest pain
- You have new swelling in your lungs
Stop exercise immediately if you experience:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Irregular heartbeat
Diaphragmatic Breathing or Belly Breathing
Your diaphragm is supposed to perform the majority of the work when we breathe. Diaphragmatic breathing, otherwise known as belly breathing, exercises engage the diaphragm muscles and help strengthen it to prevent strain on any other part of your body.
Follow these steps for the belly breathing technique:
- Relax your body, then sit or lie down, whichever you are most comfortable with.
- Place one of your hands on your stomach and one on your chest.
- Slowly inhale through your nose for 2 seconds. Notice your breath moving from your chest and filling your belly.
- Breathe out for 2 seconds through pursed lips while pressing on your abdominal area.
Repeat these steps for 1 minute.
Diaphragmatic breathing is particularly helpful for people with COPD or who are recovering from COVID-19. These exercises can be especially helpful at rebuilding your lung function. Consult with an experienced physician about developing a personalized exercise plan.
Pursed lip breathing is often used to relax your mind, body, and soul. This exercise works by relaxing the muscles and keeping your airway open for a longer period of time, allowing you to be more physically active. This takes the strain off of your lungs and helps improve the oxygen and carbon dioxide transfer. This technique can be practiced at any time.
How to practice pursed-lip breathing:
- Inhale through your nose slowly for a count of 4.
- Purse your lips together.
- Gently breathe out slowly through your pursed lips. Your exhale should take twice as long as your inhale (about 8 seconds).
Repeat this for 1 minute.
More Tips for Healthy Lungs
Looking for more ways to work on your respiratory health? Check out the easy tips from lung experts below.
- Quit smoking and avoid places where you could be exposed to secondhand smoke or other irritants.
- Be sure to keep your air filters clean and reduce air pollutants (e.g., dust, mold, and dander) to improve your indoor air quality.
- Develop a healthy and balanced diet and incorporate foods rich in antioxidants.
- Exercise often. Begin physical activity at your comfort level and grow your workout routine as you build up your strength. Aerobic exercise
- Stay up to date on your vaccinations. You should get vaccinated for the flu and pneumonia every year to promote excellent lung health and avoid lung infections.
Have More Questions Regarding Your Lung Health?
At Gwinnett Pulmonary & Sleep, we care about your lung health and are here to provide you with what you need for optimal respiratory care. Our certified and experienced physicians can answer any questions you may have regarding your lung health or any respiratory condition.