Top 2 Breathing Exercises for Lung Health

Like any part of your body, your lungs age. This decreases your lung capacity and lung function.

Breathing exercises can increase your lung capacity. They can help clear your lungs of accumulated stale air, increase your oxygen levels, and get your diaphragm to work better.

You can easily incorporate breathing exercises into your day to increase lung capacity, strengthen your lungs, and help you breathe better.

In this article, you can learn about lung capacity and why it is important. We also suggest two simple breathing exercises to support your lung capacity with instructions on how to do them.

What are lung function and lung capacity?

Lung function is your body’s ability to take air in and out, oxygenate your blood, and remove carbon dioxide from your blood.

Lung capacity is the maximum amount of air you can breathe into your lungs.  

Why does lung capacity decrease with age?

Lung capacity can decrease with age. This is because your:

·       diaphragm muscle can become weaker

·       lung tissue, that helps keep your airways open, can lose elasticity leading to smaller airways.

·       rib cage bones can change and get smaller leaving less room for your lungs to expand.

Why is lung capacity important?

The amount of air you can inhale and exhale makes a real difference to how your body functions. This means that what you can do and your maximum level of exertion is dependent on your lung capacity.

Your respiratory system helps get the fresh air your body needs and removes waste gases. An optimum lung capacity is when your body efficiently gets the oxygen it needs to your muscles and organs for them to function properly.

Without sufficient oxygen, people are more prone to respiratory and heart problems such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart disease.

Why breathing exercises help

When you breathe in and out, your diaphragm does a lot of the work to fill your lungs with oxygen and other gases, and then to expel the waste gas out.

Over time, your lungs can lose springiness and trap air in your lungs. Over time, stale air builds up and this leaves less room for your diaphragm to contract and bring in fresh oxygen. Your body may then start to use other muscles in your neck, back, and chest for breathing which yields lower oxygen levels and reserve for exercise and activity.

2 exercises to improve your breathing

We recommend two simple exercises that you can do in the comfort of your own home.

They strengthen and keep your lungs healthy to maintain or increase your lung capacity so that you get the oxygen your body needs.

1.      Diaphragmatic breathing

Strengthens your diaphragm and helps your lungs expand.  This allows you to calmly take in more air in the form of a deep breath.

Diaphragmatic breathing, also called belly breathing, retrains your diaphragm to do most of the work of filling and emptying your lungs when breathing. It is one of the best breathing exercises for increasing lung capacity.

Continuing to practice diaphragmatic breathing can help increase the amount of oxygen your body can take in.

How to do it

·       Sit back or lie down on your back and relax your shoulders.

·       Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.

·       Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose. Pay attention to how your stomach fills up with air and feel your stomach rise. Your stomach should move against your hand more than your chest which should remain still.

·       Breathe out through pursed lips at least two to three times as long as you inhaled. Press on your abdomen as you do this.

·       Repeat as many times as you wish.


2.      Pursed lip breathing

A quick and easy way to slow your pace of breathing and make each breath more effective. It helps keep your airways open for longer so that more air can flow in and out of your lungs with fewer breathes. With more air, you can be more physically active.

It can relieve shortness of breath and help those with conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or emphysema.

How to do it

·       Breathe in slowly through your nose, keeping your mouth closed.

·       Purse your lips, as if pouting or about to blow air.

·       Breathe out slowly and gently through your pursed lips. Do this for longer than your inhale.

·       Repeat as many times as you wish.

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