Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a health condition that affects a person’s ability to breathe well. It’s often associated with other conditions such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, and symptoms include wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and large amounts of mucus that collect in the lungs.
Symptoms can worsen with time, so it can be helpful to practice breathing exercises to manage them. When you practice regularly, breathing exercises can help you not only exert yourself less during daily activities but also potentially return to exercising. This can help you feel more energetic. We found five exercises that can be especially useful for those with COPD.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, pursed lip breathing has been shown to reduce how hard a person has to work to breathe, helps release air trapped in the lungs, promotes relaxation, and reduces shortness of breath. Practicing this technique four to five times daily can help. Here’s how to practice pursed lip breathing:
While keeping your mouth closed, take a deep breath in through your nose, counting to two. Follow this pattern by repeating in your head “inhale, one, two.” The breath does not have to be deep. A typical inhale will do.
Put your lips together as if you are starting to whistle or blow out candles on a birthday cake. This is known as “pursing” your lips.
While continuing to keep your lips pursed, slowly breathe out by counting to four. Don’t try to force the air out, but instead breathe out slowly.
Pursed-lip breathing is best for performing strenuous activities, such as climbing stairs.
Feeling short of breath can cause anxiety that makes you hold your breath. To prevent this from occurring, you can practice coordinated breathing using these two steps:
Inhale through your nose before beginning an exercise.
While pursing your lips, breathe out during the most strenuous part of the exercise. An example could be when curling upward on a bicep curl.
Coordinated breathing can be performed when you’re exercising or feeling anxious
Deep breathing prevents air from getting trapped in your lungs, which can cause you to feel short of breath. As a result, you can breathe in more fresh air. Here’s how to practice deep breathing:
Sit or stand with your elbows slightly back, this allows your chest to expand more fully.