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Breathing Exercises for Asthma & Increased Capacity

In the current scenario, where air pollution is becoming a global concern, people with asthma and other chronic breathing problems face severe troubles and health concerns. This has been furthered with the COVID 19 pandemic, making things a lot more difficult for people with such illnesses. Breathing exercises to help lungs that focus on improving lung capacity and can help reduce lung infection.

Lung Capacity & Lung exercises

Lung capacity, in simple terms, refers to the capacity of air that your lungs hold. It is common for the capacity of the lungs to reduce over a period of time, or if someone is suffering from a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), can result in lower lung capacities. 

However, there are breathing exercises for lungs that can help in maintaining and increasing lung capacity over a period of time. Here is a quick guide for lung capacity exercises.

Diaphragmatic breathing

Phew. sounds like a deep breath.

This is an exercise that can help people with COPD develop lung capacity. It can be performed when you are lying down.

While lying down, place your palm on your stomach and breathe in with your nostrils. You should feel the air go into your stomach, and it should raise more than your chest.

Now breathe out, through pursed lips, while pressing your abdomen. Repeat till comfortable.

Pursed lips breathing

This helps in balancing your breathing and gives more time for your airways to cope with the breathing patterns. To practice this, you can:

Breathe in through your nostrils

Purse your lips, like you would, before you blow out a candle and breathe out slowly through your mouth. Ideally, this should take twice as long as it did when you breathe in.


Exercises for Lungs: Benefits

Like any good fitness regime, breathing exercises to strengthen lungs can increase their capacity and help improve breathing. Here are a few benefits that can come from exercise.

  • Improved respiratory functions
  • Increase in lung capacity
  • Helps in relaxations
  • Can engage in physical activity longer
  • Easy to perform, and can be done on an individual level
  • It can reduce stress, and can help deal with anxiety too
  • Better lung capacity also can improve sleep quality 

Breathing Exercises for Asthma

Nasal Breathing

Nasal breathing simply means breathing through your nose, at a consistent pace, It adds humidity and warmth, which helps reduce asthma attacks.

Buteyko breathing

This is a technique where you practice breathing slower when one hyperventilates.

Sitting on a chair, relax your abdominal and chest muscles as you take a deep breath. Keep your eyes closed and face straight.

Inhale through your nose, keeping your mouth closed. Take a deep breath.

Slowly exhale, until you feel like your lungs are out of air. Hold your breath for as long as you can, before you repeat.

Deep Breathing Exercises

Alternative breathing

This is a simple exercise that we have grown up watching or doing.

Sit in a comfortable position, with your backs upright and head straight.

Place a finger on one nostril, and breathe in deeply, with the other.

Now exhale with the nostril that was closed.

Repeat, alternating between the nostrils. 

Breathing Exercises to Increase Oxygen Level

Box breathing

Exhale to counts of four.

Hold your lung empty for a count of four

Inhale to counts of four


Simple? Simple.

Lions breath

Sounds royal? Here is how you do it.

  1. Spread your fingers as wide as possible.
  2. Inhale through your nose.
  3. Open your mouth wide, stick out your tongue, and stretch it down toward your chin.
  4. Exhale forcefully, carrying the breath across the root of your tongue.
  5. While exhaling, make a "ha" sound that comes from deep within your abdomen.
  6. Breathe normally for a few moments.

ACBT Exercise

ACBT or Active Cycle of Breathing Techniques are methods that help you clear sputum from your chest and help improve your breathing. It is not advisable to practice these if you are suffering from a physical injury to the chest,  spine, or rib. It is ideal to wait for an hour after food, to engage in these exercises.

You can drain the mucus in the upper lobe by sitting in an upright position leaning against a pillow on the headboard.

The mucus from the middle lobe can be drained by lying down on one side, using a few pillows placed under the hips.

For the lower lobe,  lie down on the other side, with pillows under your hips


This is an effective technique for improving breathing. This is when you lie down on your stomach.

  • Take one pillow below the neck.
  • Use one or two pillows below the chest through the upper thighs.
  • Two pillows below the shins.
  • Regular changes in lying position.
  • Spend at least 30 minutes in each position.
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