With cold and flu season here and the effects Covid-19 may have on the respiratory system, I feel it is important to take a moment to discuss some things we can do to promote better breathing and lung health. Some obvious changes may be to stop smoking, increase cardiovascular activity, or improve air quality in your home with filtration systems. Although exercise and cardiovascular activities are very beneficial and encouraged, there are a couple easy breathing exercises that can be done sitting or lying in your home.
Belly breathing (diaphragmatic breathing). The diaphragm should do 80% of the work while breathing.
- Start in a seated position - you can progress to lying on your back.
- Place your hand lightly on your belly button.
- Breathe in through your nose - your belly should protrude with inhaling. Make sure your shoulders and chest are relaxed, so the diaphragm does the majority of the work.
- Breathe out and gently push in on your stomach, taking twice as long to exhale to allow adequate oxygen and CO2 exchange.
- Complete 10-20 repetitions 5x’s/day to start and increase over time.
Pursed Lip breathing. This helps keep your airway open longer for better oxygen and CO2 exchange, improving overall breathing efficiency.
- Start in a seated position - make sure neck and shoulders are relaxed.
- Breathe in through your nose.
- Purse your lips like you are blowing through a straw.
- Breathe out at least twice as long as it took you to breathe in, maintaining pursed lips.
- Again, start in a seated position with shoulders and neck relaxed.
- Breathe in through your nose and hold your breath- start out for short periods of 2 second and progress up to 10 seconds, if able.
- Breathe out through your mouth and hold your breath for the same amount of time.
In conclusion, having better lung capacity and more correct breathing techniques can be very beneficial when you do get sick. It will also help a healthy person to have more energy, be more active, and reduce stress and strain on the neck and shoulders.