Breathing exercises to improve lung function

Breathing exercises

What is lung capacity?

Lungs can hold air up to a certain extent to its capacity. This holding capacity of the lungs is called lung capacity. Generally, our lung function and lung capacity gradually decrease their functionality as we age after our mid-30s.

Diseases like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) can accelerate the reduction in lung functioning and its capacity. This may cause difficulty in breathing and lead to shortness of breath.

But you have the opportunity to prevent and mitigate the occurrence of lung diseases. Multiple lung exercises have the power of building more strength and resistance to our lungs so that we may not be prone to any lung disorders.  

The following breathing exercises are designed to improve lung function and reduce the chances of lung disorders in the future. People should strictly adhere to the following lung exercises to see a change and energy in their daily routine.

Types of lung exercises

Diaphragmatic breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing or “belly breathing” helps the diaphragm to do most of the heavy inhalation work, especially when it comes to breathing. The diaphragm is the large dome-shaped muscle seen at the base of the lungs.

This technique is particularly employed in patients with COPD to strengthen and boost the capacity of their diaphragm. This exercise could be done, especially when a person is in a rested position.

If you suffer from COPD, ask your respiratory therapist to guide you on how to perform this exercise.

Here are the detailed steps to perform diaphragmatic breathing:

  1. First, relax your shoulders and lie down calmly.
  2. Place one hand on your chest and the other hand on your belly.
  3. Inhale through your nose for three seconds, feel the air move into your abdomen and stomach move out. Your stomach movement should be higher than that of your chest.  
  4. Exhale for two seconds through your closed lips while pressing on your abdomen.
  5. Repeat the process three times.

Pursed-lips breathing

Pursed-lips breathing can reduce the process of your breathing, reducing the work of breathing by keeping your airways open longer. This enhances the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

This exercise is easier and more comfortable than diaphragmatic breathing, and you can do this exercise at home without any disturbance. You can follow the steps below to do a pursed-lips breathing exercise.

  1. Use your nostrils to inhale air for three seconds.
  2. Purse your lips tightly as if to blow on something.
  3. Exhale slowly as possible through pursed lips. This should be done during breathing.
  4. Repeat the process five times.

Nasal breathing

Mouth breathing is the wrong way of breathing as it can lead to problems like Asthma. The nose adds more humidity and warmth, which can help mitigate Asthma diseases. Nasal breathing is nothing but a conventional way of breathing.

Abdominal breathing

  • Lay down in a comfortable position, place one hand on your abdomen and the other hand on your chest.
  • Breathe in slowly from your midsection; the hand in the abdomen should rise higher than the other hand. Now, breathe out slowly and steadily from your mouth.
  • After that, have a deep inhale through your nose and hold it for at least 7 seconds. Now, carefully breathe out the air more than you inhaled by squeezing your abdominal muscle.
  • Repeat these steps at least five times.

 Papworth breathing method

The Papworth method has been a famous breathing method since the1960s. It constitutes breathing exercises of different types with relaxation training techniques. You can learn how to have strong control of stress, so it does not affect your breathing. Researchers suggest this method of breathing can reduce asthma symptoms and improve the quality of hassle-free breathing in people.

Buteyko breathing

Buteyko breathing is breathing, which was later named after its creator, who developed the technique during the 1940s. The core idea behind this process is hyperventilation — to breathe deeper and faster than normal.

Rapid breathing is not good breathing as it can aggravate symptoms like shortness of breath and asthma.

Buteyko’s breathing method may improve symptoms of asthma and reduce the necessity for medications.

Yoga breathing

Yoga is an exercise program that comes with a combination of breathing and exercise. Yoga provides a study in controlled deep breathing that may help improve asthma symptoms and lung function.

Box breathing

Box breathing is a breathing technique employed when taking slow, in-depth breaths. It is also known as square breathing. This exercise helps to increase breathing performance and concentration and also acts as a powerful stress reliever.  

This breathing technique can be beneficial to anyone, especially those who intend to reduce stress can find this method to be more beneficial. It is performed by those ranging from athletes to normal people.

Rib stretch

  • First, stand straight and exhale all your air from the lungs.  
  • Breathe slowly until your lung reaches its maximum capacity. After doing that, hold the air for at least 20 seconds.  
  • While counting, place your two hands on the hip and your thumbs facing up. Now relax and exhale the air.
  • Repeat these steps three times.

Exercise in water

You can also exercise in the water. Performing exercise in the water adds more resistance to your workouts. Therefore, your body works well to supply oxygen to your lungs.

Cardio exercise

Thirty minutes of cardio workouts daily would be the best choice if you intend to concentrate on your lung performance. You can customise your cardio workouts based on your comfort and your fitness expert’s advice.

Higher elevation exercise 

Your lung works harder at high elevation, especially when there is less oxygen supply. Your lung performance dramatically increases when you work out at a higher elevation. People with good fitness levels prefer this exercise, but an individual should perform this type of exercise with caution.

Treatment for shortness of breath

Some lung disorders are serious and require immediate medical attention. If you face any symptoms and difficulty in breathing, you can take steps to relieve them at home.

Adhere to the below remedies to get rid of shortness of breath:

  • stop making and avoiding tobacco  
  • avoiding exposure to environmental toxins
  • be productive in managing your body weight
  • avoiding high elevations
  • staying healthy by following regular exercises and getting enough sleep
  • getting vaccinations to prevent COVID-19, flu and other diseases
  • following a strict treatment plan for any underlying illnesses like Asthma, COPD  

Remember that only a doctor can properly diagnose the causes of your shortness of breath.


The above breathing exercises are some of the proven exercises. If you want to improve your lung performance, you can do these exercises with confidence.

These exercises have the power and resistance to increase your lung capacity, which eliminates your concerns about future lung disorders.

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