Breathing Exercises to Improve Lung Capacity

Lung capacity is the total amount of air that your lungs can hold. Typically, we see a slow reduction in capacity as we age. Conditions such COPD(chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) can worsen lung capacity causing difficulty breathing and shortness of breath.

The good news is that there are exercises that can help maintain and improve your lung capacity allowing easier breathing and healthier lungs.

Diaphragmatic Breathing
Otherwise known as “belly breathing”, diaphragmatic breathing engages the diaphragm, which is the muscle we want doing the heavy lifting during breathing.

-Sit or lie down in a relaxed position.
-Place one hand on your belly and one on your chest.
-Inhale through your nose for two seconds and feel your stomach move out. It should move more than your chest.
-Breathe out for two seconds through pursed lips while gently pressing on your belly. Repeat.

Pursed Lip Breathing
Helps slow breathing down and reduces the work of breathing. This may be easier for beginners than diaphragmatic breathing.

-Inhale slowly through your nose.
-Purse your lips as of about to blow on something.
-Breathe out slowly through pursed lips. This should take at least twice as long as breathing in took. Repeat.

Do these exercises daily if your health allows. If you are concerned about your breathing or don't know if you are healthy enough to do these exercises, please see your doctor for an exam.


Stephany Primrose, P.T.

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