These common exercises can help improve breathing and help the lungs function more efficiently. Ask your doctor if they are appropriate for you.
Do you think ever about the process of breathing… while you are breathing? Probably not, because breathing is so natural for most people and the body usually takes care of breathing all on its own without requiring any conscious thought from us at all. Our lungs fill with new fresh air and expel old stale air. Just like that. Easy as pie. But, a body that seems to breathing as it is supposed to may not be doing so in the most productive and effective way possible. That’s when thinking about breathing can be helpful.
When most people think about the process of breathing, they concentrate on their lungs. Although lungs take in oxygen and deliver it throughout the body, the diaphragm does the vast majority of the real work of breathing. The diaphragm is a muscle located at the bottom of the chest cavity. The diaphragm and abdominal muscles are instrumental in helping the lungs expand and contract so people can breathe deeply and get the right amount of fresh air in and stale air out.
Unfortunately, some physical conditions can affect the body’s ability to breathe deeply. Age can also have an impact. But, how do you know if you are breathing deeply? Here’s how… place a hand on your chest and the other hand on your stomach as you breathe normally while sitting or lying down. Contrary to what you may think… if you are breathing deeply, the hand on your chest should not move as you breathe in and out. But the hand on your stomach should rise and fall with each breath. The hand on the chest will move only during shallow breathing, which is when only the top of the lungs are filling with air.
If you find you are not breathing deeply, let your doctor know. Many people who are shallow breathers are able to strengthen their diaphragms and improve their breathing through simple exercises.
Belly breathing helps strengthen the diaphragm so you can get more fresh air into your lungs and more stale air out of your lungs. Belly breathing can be done while standing, but many people prefer lying down when practicing belly breathing.
Pursed Lip Breathing can improve the ability of your lungs to empty fully while expelling stale air and inhaling fresh air.