Breathing Exercises for Patients with COPD
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) leads to difficulty breathing, excess mucus, and chronic coughing. In addition, the feeling of being short of breath can lead to anxiety and other mental health concerns.
Engaging in breathing exercises can expand your lung capacity, allowing for more efficient, functional breathing and offering the added benefit of calming anxiety.
Taking the time to practice deep breathing can allow you to expel air from your lungs fully. Trapped air can cause shortness of breath, but completely releasing all the air from your lungs will help you take in the fresh air.
Practicing deep breathing requires a few easy steps:
- Sit or stand comfortably, slightly drawing your elbows back to open your chest
- Deeply inhale through your nose
- Hold the air in your lungs as you count to five
- Slowly exhale through your nose until you fully expel all of the air
Deep breathing exercises can increase the amount of oxygen in the body, calm the central nervous system, reduce anxiety, and reduce feelings of breathlessness.
Staying active and exercising is especially important for those with COPD. Exercise strengthens your breathing muscles, reduces the risk of COPD flare-ups, and helps you maintain healthy body weight.
Coordinated breathing can help you strengthen your breath. You can practice it during both smaller daily activities like climbing stairs and more strenuous activities like lifting weights.
To practice coordinated breathing:
- Inhale before starting your movement
- Exhale as you complete the movement
For example, when climbing stairs, you will inhale for a count of two to three, then exhale as you ascend two to three steps. Likewise, if you’re lifting weights, you’ll inhale as you begin and exhale as you lift.
Together with other popular breathing exercises for COPD, these tools can help you control your symptoms and expand your lung capacity.