The symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) often worsen over time. As a result, patients with the condition will experience increased wheezing, mucus production, shortness of breath, and discomfort.

Regularly practicing breathing exercises can help slow disease progression and manage symptoms. In addition, breathing exercises can reduce tangential symptoms, such as anxiety from shortness of breath.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

The diaphragm is the most significant muscle of respiration. As with any other muscle in the body, exercise strengthens the diaphragm and helps it work more efficiently. 

Diaphragmatic breathing exercises help you use your diaphragm correctly so breathing requires less energy and effort.

To practice diaphragmatic breathing: 

  • Lie on your back 
  • Place one hand on your chest and one on your diaphragm, below the ribcage
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose, feeling the diaphragm expand
  • Tighten your stomach muscles as you exhale 

When practicing diaphragmatic breathing, the hand on your chest should remain mostly still. In contrast, the hand on your diaphragm should move up and down with your inhale and exhale. 

Pursed Lip Breathing

Pursed lip breathing works to control shortness of breath, slowing the pace of breathing and releasing trapped air from the lungs.

Once you master pursed lip breathing, it can effectively calm your breath during activity.

To practice pursed lip breathing:

  • Relax the shoulder and neck muscles
  • Inhale through your nose, keeping your mouth closed
  • Pucker your lips as if to whistle
  • Gently exhale through your pursed lips

In pursed lip breathing, exhalation is more critical than inhalation. While the technique does not require taking a deep breath, your exhale should take twice as long as your inhale.

Huff Cough

The body coughs to remove excess mucus from the lungs naturally. The huff cough allows you to cough effectively without overly straining your muscles. 

To practice the huff cough:

  • Sit comfortably in a chair
  • Inhale a little more deeply than usual
  • Using your stomach muscles, blow the air out in three breaths
  • While releasing the breaths, make a “ha, ha, ha” sound

While huff coughs lack the force of a regular cough, they are often more effective at removing excess mucus.

Improve Your COPD Through Breathing Exercises

Practicing these exercises daily can strengthen your diaphragm, improve shortness of breath, and release excess mucus without straining. Breathing exercises have been shown to improve the quality of life for COPD patients.

For more health awareness blogs, please visit www.stemedix.com/blog.

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