Is stopping to catch your breath slowing you down? You’re not alone.
Currently, 24 million Americans face the challenges of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Good news is many have found it possible to maintain a healthy pace of living. You can too.
Enjoying an active life while living with COPD requires a commitment to better breathing. How? Routine exercise is your answer.
It makes sense, really. If you have a bad knee, you do leg exercises. If you have an injured wrist, you work to strengthen your arm muscles. So, it makes sense that if your lungs have lost their elasticity—common to COPD—you do exercises to regain lung strength.
If done properly, you can get out and do more of the activities you love, and for longer.
Ready to strengthen your breath? Try out these top breathing exercises and tips for those living with COPD.
1. Pursed Lip Breathing
Pursed lip breathing is a highly-recommended COPD breathing technique that releases trapped air in your lungs and keeps your airways open longer for easier, more effective breaths.
The Cleveland Clinic recommends using this technique during the difficult part of any activity, such as bending, lifting, or stair climbing. Start out by practicing pursed lip breathing 4-5 times a day and you’ll get the hang of doing it correctly.
Here’s how it’s done:
- Inhale through your nose slowly, while counting silently to two. Keep your mouth closed and make it a normal, healthy breath.
- Purse your lips as if you were going to whistle, and exhale slowly while counting silently to four.
- Repeat as needed to maintain a normal, steady breath.
2. Deep Breathing
Shortness of breath stems from air getting trapped in your lungs. When you learn the deep breathing technique, you’ll be able to force out more air with each breath and breathe fresh air more deeply.
Here’s how to practice deep breathing:
- Sit or stand with your elbows slightly pulled back, expanding your chest more fully.
- Inhale deeply through your nose.
- Hold your breath and count silently to 5.
- Exhale through your nose, slowly, until you feel your inhaled air has been released.
The website Healthline recommends doing this exercise with other daily breathing exercises for 10-minute sets, 3-4 times each day.
3. Huff Cough
Managing your excessive mucus buildup can take its toll on your energy. The huff cough is a useful technique for coughing up mucus without wearing yourself out.
Here’s how it works:
- Get in a comfortable seated position and inhale through your mouth. Make sure you breathe a bit longer and deeper than you would normally.
- Tighten your stomach muscles to blow the air out in three even breaths while making the sounds “ha, ha, ha.” This will work the mucus up with less effort.
According to Healthline, the huff cough works because it’s less tiring than a traditional cough, and it keeps you from getting tired from coughing up mucus.
Additional COPD breathing tip you should know
Feeling short of breath during exercise or regular activities? Follow these 3 steps as recommended by the COPD foundation:
- Stop your activity.
- Reset by sitting down, relax your shoulders, and do pursed-lips breathing until you catch your breath.
- Continue activity, doing pursed-lips breathing as you go. Go at a slower pace if you need to.
Please keep in mind that you should consult your physician before trying any exercise routine. It’s possible you can combine this treatment with your portable oxygen treatments for a better quality of breath.
So, get started, breathe deeply, and enjoy your healthier life.
Want to learn more about your COPD?
Here are some leading resources:
If you believe you have COPD symptoms, please consult your doctor.