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Just take a deep breath…

Vaidehi June 01, 2022

Our lungs and breathing are 2 things that we always take for granted. The lungs just seem to work and we continue breathing without even thinking about it. We only ever think about this when something is not right. We think about our fitness and trimming our waistline, boosting our fitness or improving our muscular strength. But do we ever think about exercises that we can do to keep our lungs and heart healthy and fit? The answer is generally NO!

In my last blog on Pulmonary Rehabilitation (PR), I talked about how breathing exercises or a supervised PR program can help improve your lung capacity. I now want to take that a little bit further and look at breathing exercises which can help improve your muscle strength and improve your lung function.

Breathing is a natural process, achieved by the simple process of moving the air in and out of the lungs. Despite the simplicity of this process, breathing has been extensively researched in the medical field. The outcome of these studies has frequently been drawing our attention to the benefits of breathing on our overall wellbeing. Breathing exercises are a consistent theme in the PR program for people who have long term breathing problems such as asthma and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).

There are a few simple exercises that I would recommend in my blog. They are simple to do, take no time at all and you might even enjoy them!

Purse lip breathing

This amazing exercise can be done if you feel breathless while lifting weights, climbing stars, or simply when you run to catch a bus or a train. All you need to do is purse your lips (as if you were going to whistle and breather out) and then exhale through your mouth for the count of 5 or 6. This technique helps to remove any Carbon Dioxide that is trapped in your lungs and forces you to breathe slower,which in turn makes your breath more intense. Scientific research has shown that this technique can really help people who have breathlessness, anxiety or long-term lung conditions.

Diagrammatic breathing exercise

This exercise is also known as a belly breathing exercise. It focuses on your diaphragm muscle known to focus on the diaphragm muscle (located below your lungs) and is one of the important muscles involved in the breathing cycle. All you need to do is place your hands on the upper part of the belly, take a deep breath in through your nose (just feel the movement of the tummy), hold for a count of 2 or 3 and then slowly breathe out through the mouth. Do this 8-10 times. It helps you fill you lungs much more effectively with oxygen. 2-3 counts, and now slowly exhale through the mot. Continue this for minimum of 8-10 repetitions. This technique will help in filling your lungs more effectively with oxygen.

Active Cycle Breathing Technique

This technique is generally practised to clear out any secretions (fluid that has built up, such as phlegm) and improve the lung function. There are three main parts of this technique.

  1. Step one - known as the breath control. You need to concentrate on your normal breathing pattern and relax. Once you have managed this, then gently breathe in and out through your nose. If you are feeling breathless, then you can do this through your mouth.
  2. Step two - Thoracic expansion or deep breathing. You need to slowly breathe in and put your arms up at the same time. At the end of your breath, hold it for a count of 3, then slowly put your arms down and breathe out through your mouth. Repeat this 3-5 times.
  3. Step three - At the end of this phase just cough twice to remove the secretions from your chest.

The above exercises are a simple way to boost your lung function! If you need to know more, then please come and visit our Sittingbourne or Maidstone Physiotherapy Clinics!

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