COVID-19 can cause respiratory tract infection: Breathing exercises to keep your lungs healthy

Chronic inflammatory lung diseases rising worldwide. © Shutterstock

Exercise can improve lung capacity and ward off many diseases. Here are some effective breathing exercises to boost your lung health.

The lungs are the primary organs of the respiratory system that helps transfer life-giving oxygen into the bloodstream. The novel coronavirus can damage your lungs, leading to severe respiratory issues. In critical cases, the infection can damage the walls and linings of the air sacs in your lungs. It can even lead to dangerous and potentially fatal condition known as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). This condition may cause symptoms like sudden breathlessness, rapid breathing, dizziness, rapid heart rate and excessive sweating.

Chronic inflammatory lung diseases, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and pulmonary fibrosis are also rising worldwide. Exercise can improve lung capacity and ward off many diseases that might impact the lungs. So, here are 4 effective breathing exercises to boost your lung health.

Diaphragmatic breathing

Also called belly breathing, this exercise engages the diaphragm, a muscle located horizontally between the thoracic cavity and abdominal cavity that helps you breathe. The diaphragm isn't as effective as it should be in people with COPD. So, this breathing exercise is particularly helpful in these individuals.

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How to do diaphragmatic breathing

  • Sit back or lie down.
  • Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.
  • Inhale in deeply through your nose for two seconds. You will feel the air move into your abdomen and your stomach expands.
  • Then breathe out for two seconds while pressing on your abdomen. Make sure your lips are pursed.

Pursed lip breathing

This breathing exercise can keep the airways open for longer time intervals, improving the airflow into and out of the lungs. This can slow down your breathing, making it easier for the lungs to function. It is also easier to do than diaphragmatic breathing and can be practiced at any time.

Pursed lip breathing can also help release air trapped in the lungs, promote relaxation as well as reduce shortness of breath. You can practice this breathing technique while performing strenuous activities, such as climbing stairs.

How to perform pursed lip breathing

  • Seat up in a straight and upright posture
  • Inhale through your nostrils in a gradual and measured fashion.
  • Tighten your lips, as if you're pouting or about to blow on something.
  • Breathe out as slowly as possible through pressed lips. The process of breathing out should take at least twice as long as it did to breathe in.
  • Practicing this technique 4 to 5 times daily.

Coordinated breathing

It can be performed when you're exercising or feeling anxious. Episodes of shortness of breath can cause anxiety and make you hold your breath. Coordinated breathing can help you prevent this condition from occurring. Simply these two steps:

  • Inhale through your nose.
  • Pursing your lips, breathe out through your mouth
  • Try this breathing technique while exercising or performing strenuous activity.

Huff cough

In people with COPD, mucus can build up more easily in their lungs. The breathing exercise can help you cough up mucus effectively without. It is less tiring than a traditional cough.

How to practice the huff cough:

  • Seat comfortably.
  • Inhale through your mouth, slightly deeper than your normal breath.
  • Engage your stomach muscles and blow the air out in three even breaths. While doing so make the sounds "ha, ha, ha" as if you're blowing onto a mirror to cause it to steam.

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