2 years ago

Consider these breathing exercises to increase lung capacity

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Mark Courtney, a respiratory therapist of the American Lung Association, compared our lungs to a screen door with springs. According to him, over time the springs may get sloppy, and the lungs may not function at the same level as expected. When that happens, stale air gets trapped inside.

There are some exercises that can help increase the efficiency of lung function. These exercises improve breathing and increase oxygen levels in the blood.

One common exercise that everyone can practice is called ‘Pursed Lip’ breathing. To do this, we first have to sit straight, then take a slow deep breath through the nose.

Next, we must purse our lips so they are almost in touching position (much like a kissing/whistling face) and then breath out through it. The exhalation should be longer than the inhalation phase.

Pursed lip exercise is particularly beneficial for physically less active people, especially those who may not be frequently exercising their breathing muscles.

Another exercise is known as ‘Belly Breathing.’ According to the US COPD foundation, this follows some simple steps, i.e. relaxing shoulders and sitting back or lying down, one hand on the belly and one on the chest.

Inhale through your nose for two seconds and feel the stomach move out. The stomach should move more than the chest.

Breathe out for two seconds through pursed lips while pressing on the abdomen; repeat.

These two exercises should be started when we are breathing comfortably. When we get used to it, we can try them when feeling short of breath. It is advisable to practice these two for 5-10 minutes each day.

There are several other good exercises. For example, ‘Rib Stretching’ requires us to stand upright, breathe out completely and then breath in gradually to fill the lungs. Then hold your breath as long as possible, while placing hands on the hips with thumbs pointing forward. Then exhale slowly and repeat this three times. 

‘Deep Breathing’ is another form of exercise. This can be done in a sitting or standing position, keeping the elbows slightly at the back. Then a deep breath through the nose, holding it for 5 seconds and then slowly releasing the air through the nose. It can be repeated several times throughout the day.

‘Interval Training’ is useful when we develop breathlessness due to exercise. This does not involve breathing in or out, rather it is an alternation between strenuous and less strenuous activity.

One example is running fast for one minute, then slowly for 2-3 minutes and continuing the cycle.

This allows the lungs to recover from the exertion. It must be noted that whenever we feel breathless during exercise, we must stop and take a rest.

We should remember to preserve lung health. To do that, we need to avoid smoking, drink plenty of water, eat healthy with special attention to antioxidants rich food, keep our vaccinations up to date and exercise regularly.

Dr Imtiaz Ahmed completed his MBBS from Dhaka Medical College.

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