Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a health condition that a lot of people suffer from. It is actually a term that includes a variety of different progressive lung diseases, and it is associated with breathlessness.1
Overall, COPD is a progressive lung disease that can make it incredibly difficult to breathe normally. The disease is something that affects millions of people, and it is currently the third leading cause of deaths due to disease in the United States.2
Luckily, symptoms of COPD can be relieved in a variety of ways, and it may be preventable in certain cases. One of the best ways to effectively relieve some of the symptoms of COPD is through implementing breathing exercises. Highlighted below are some of the top breathing exercises that may be able to alleviate COPD symptoms.
Top Breathing Exercises for COPD
Pursed Lip Breathing
This particular practice of breathing can come with numerous benefits, making it a very good option for those who suffer from COPD.3 For one, it has been shown to be effective at promoting relaxation, which can relieve some of the anxiety that accompanies the feeling of being unable to breathe. Along with this, it has shown to effectively reduce sensations of shortness of breath.
Pursed lip breathing has also been shown to be effective at helping one release trapped air in the lungs and to make it much easier to breathe in general. Because it can reduce dynamic hyperinflation and improve breathing patterns, it has been shown to be effective at improving exercise tolerance in individuals with COPD.4
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If you are looking to implement pursed-lip breathing, you are going to want to be sure that you are implementing the breathing practice properly for the best results. Start out with your mouth completely closed. Then, take a deep breath directly through your nostrils and count to two. After this, purse your lips together as if you are looking to whistle and slowly breathe out through your pursed lips to a count of four. Rather than forcing the air out of your mouth, you should be pushing it through slowly and deliberately.
This is another breathing exercise that is an excellent option for those who suffer from COPD. Because COPD can make it difficult to breathe normally, you want to implement different breathing exercises that are going to help prevent air from getting completely trapped in your lungs. Deep breathing is good at this because it can push stale air out of the lungs and relieve the sensation that comes with shortness of breath.
With deep breathing, you will be able to breathe in much more fresh air each time you inhale, which can keep you feeling better overall and much less fatigued.5
When you are looking to implement deep breathing, stand up straight. Standing up with good posture is key to getting in the best deep breathing posture because you want your chest to be able to fully expand during the session. Inhale directly through your nose until you can’t anymore, and then hold for a count of five seconds.
Then, exhale slowly through your nose until all of the air is eliminated. This will allow you to take in deeper breaths than you would normally be able to, and it will allow you to put yourself in a more relaxed state. This is a good breathing exercise that you want to incorporate into your daily routine anywhere from three to five times a day.
This exercise targets and strengthens the very important muscle that is involved in breathing. People who suffer from COPD usually do not engage their abdominals as much as they should when they are breathing. Instead, they typically rely on the muscles of the upper back and neck area. As a result, this type of breathing exercise can help you retrain your muscles to better engage them while breathing which can inherently improve your breathing in general. Studies have shown that diaphragmatic breathing can help boost lung volume and even optimize respiratory motion.6
In order to implement this type of breathing practice, sit or lay down in a comfortable position. Once you are doing this, place one hand on your abdominal section and the other on your chest. This will allow you to guide yourself towards knowing whether or not you are executing the breathing exercise correctly.
Then, take in a deep breath through your nose and hold for around two seconds. You should feel your diaphragm expanding during this process. If your diaphragm is expanding and your chest isn’t, you are breathing in properly. Next, purse your lips and breathe out slowly and deliberately through your mouth while you gently press down on your stomach area. This can help you eliminate the air that is in your diaphragm.
You will then want to repeat the entire process for around five to eight cycles. The key is understanding whether or not you are doing the exercise properly. By using your hand and correct placement as indicators, you will be able to know whether or not you are doing it correctly each time.
Overall, there are a lot of breathing exercises that you may want to consider incorporating into your daily routine in order to relieve some of the symptoms of COPD. These breathing exercises ultimately help limit the amount of exertion that is required to breathe in normally. There is plenty of evidence that these breathing exercises can improve overall lung function and decrease the amount of effort required to inhale the right amount of air into the lungs.
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