Breathing Exercises to Help COPD

Diseases like those that fall under the COPD umbrella can make breathing difficult; that's why doing your breathing exercises is essential. 

Feelings of breathlessness can cause anxiety and panic attacks that lead you to feel short of breath. It is vital to practice breathing techniques for your Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease to strengthen further the muscles that are used while breathing so you can get more oxygen with less effort. 

Research shows that two of the best exercises you can do are pursed-lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing (also known as deep or abdominal breathing). Regularly engaging in these tried and true techniques will help improve your breathing efficiency and lower any anxiety associated. 

Pursed Lip Breathing 

According to the COPD Foundation, this is one of the best breathing exercises that increases effective breathing, establishes good habits and patterns, and aids in feelings of control and calmness. Here's how it's done: 

  • Step 1 - In a comfortable, upright sitting position, inhale normally (no deep breath necessary) through your nose for two seconds.
  • Step 2 - Before exhaling, purse your lips together like you are getting ready to blow out a candle or to whistle.
  • Step 3 - Exhale slowly out of your pursed lips for four to six seconds.
  • Step 4 - Repeat.

Aim to practice this exercise three to four times daily. Even if you are not experiencing shortness of breath, it is good to work on mastering this technique. If breathlessness should occur, you'll be ready with this technique to help get your breathing under control. 

Diaphragmatic Breathing 

You may have heard this technique called a couple of different names, including deep breathing or abdominal breathing. When doing this type of breathing, your abdomen should rise as you inhale and lower as you exhale. When breathing normally, your diaphragm is the primary muscle that is used and does most of the work. The diaphragm doesn't work well for those suffering from COPD, so a patient may end up using their backs, shoulders, and neck to help them breathe. Unfortunately, these muscles don't do much to move air and can leave you feeling breathless. Training your diaphragm to do more of the work can help. Here's how: 

  • Step 1 - Lay down flat on your back. Feel free to add a pillow or rolled-up blanket under your knees to support your back. Once you've mastered this exercise while laying down, you can try it sitting or standing upright.
  • Step 2 - Place one hand on your chest and the other hand on your abdomen, just under your waist.
  • Step 3 - Through your nose, inhale slowly and deeply while pushing out your belly. You will feel and see the hand on your abdomen moving outward. Work to keep your neck, shoulders, chest, and ribs still during this process. Your other hand should not move.
  • Step 4 - Slowly exhale through pursed lips while softly pushing your abdomen in and upward. This will help empty your lungs entirely. Again, try not to let your other hand move.
  • Step 5 - Repeat. Practice this exercise for 5-10 minutes three or four times each day to solidify this technique. 

This method of breathing might seem like a lot more work and take more effort at first. It might even make you feel tired, but don't give up! With daily practice and persistence, this technique will become easy and automatic. 

Breathe Better with O2 Assist 

By practicing these breathing exercises, you will notice a big difference in your COPD side effect of feeling out of breath. At O2 Assist, we are dedicated to providing the latest technology for oxygen therapy that will fit your unique circumstances. That’s why we provide our customers with various choices for their oxygen concentrator needs, including in-home and portable oxygen concentrators. 

O2 Assist is different because we understand that oxygen therapy should never feel like a guessing game. With our excellent customer service, you'll be connected to a personal oxygen specialist that will be there to answer any questions about your device. If you're ready to learn more about oxygen therapy and how our concentrators can help with your COPD, contact us today through our 24-hour chat line or over the phone!