How To Achieve Better Breathing

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How To Achieve Better Breathing


Shortness of breath and a reduced capacity to participate in physical activity or activities of daily living can be some symptoms associated with diagnosed chronic lung conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), asthma, bronchiectasis or cystic fibrosis (CF). Breathing techniques such as pursed lipped breathing and diaphragmatic breathing have been shown to help improve lung function, reduce the work of breathing and subsequently reduce the impact of symptoms associated with lung diseases.  These breathing exercises are aimed at improving lung function, reducing the work of breathing and the symptoms associated with chronic lung conditions.


Pursed lip breathing is used to improve ventilation, to release air trapped in the lungs and to keep the airways open for longer, decrease the work o breathing, improve breathing patterns, relieves shortness of breath and increase relaxation.


  1. Relax your neck and shoulder muscles.
  2. Breathe in slowly through your nose for approximately 2 seconds keeping your mouth closed.
  3. Purse your lips as if you were going to whistle and breathe out slowly for approximately 4 seconds.
  4. Complete this technique 4-5 times per day to practice the correct pattern and then apply the technique to the difficult part of an activity such as lifting or climbing stairs.


Diaphragmatic breathing is aimed at helping train the diaphragm while breathing; decrease the work of breathing and to the slow breathing rate. 

  1. Lying on your back on a flat surface with your knees bent and your head supported place one hand on your upper chest and the other below your rib cage.
  2. Breathe in slowly through your nose and feel your chest move out against your hand.
  3. Tighten your stomach muscles and let them fall inwards as you breathe out through pursed lips.
  4. Complete 3-4 times per day for approximately 5-10 minutes.


These breathing re-training exercises can also be used for individuals without pulmonary disease to promote relaxation during times of stress as well as reducing the distress of shortness of breath and improving ventilation.  Diaphragmatic and pursed lipped breathing are important exercises in reducing shortness of breath brought about by completing every day tasks or physical activity and are an integral part of any pulmonary rehabilitation program.


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