These 5 Breathing Exercises for COPD Help You Breathe Easier
When you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), breathing difficulty can make even the simplest tasks hard to manage. But COPD can interfere with so much more than that. When not properly managed, it can rob you of time with family and friends and keep you from your favorite activities. But the right breathing exercises for COPD can help you take back your life.
As one of the leading regenerative medicine clinics in the United States, the National Stem Cell Institute (NSI) sees COPD patients every day. In fact, COPD therapy is a primary specialty of NSI. So the physicians there know more than a thing or two about how to bring the quality of life back to those suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
One of the ways the Institute’s functional rehabilitation department helps is by teaching patients breathing exercises for COPD.
One of the best ways to enhance the results of your COPD therapy is to practice breathing exercises.
When you’re struggling to breathe, it’s normal to feel anxiety or depression. With COPD, the connection between deep breathing and coughing can cause mental stress and can make it even harder to catch your breath. So it can be said that learning breathing exercises for COPD not only helps you physically, they give you coping tools to reduce anxiety and melancholy. When you have skills that give you more control, a sense of well being is enhanced.
These five breathing exercises for COPD are designed to help you breathe with fewer struggles, getting you the air you need. They help lessen the pattern of deep breathing and coughing. And, for many people, learning breathing techniques help them rely less on bronchodilators and inhaled steroids.
The 5 breathing exercises for COPD that will be covered in this article are:
- Pursed-Lip Breathing
- Diaphragmatic (or Belly) Breathing
- Coordinated Breathing
- Deep Breathing
- The Huff Cough
5 Breathing Exercises for COPD
Before you begin these breathing exercises for COPD, take a minute to relax your shoulders and close your eyes. Reducing physical tension will help you breathe more fully and deeply.
- Breathing Exercises for COPD #1: Pursed-Lips Breathing
The Cleveland Clinic tells us that pursed-lip breathing offers a variety of benefits:
- Reduces the effort needed to breathe
- Aids the lungs in releasing trapped air
- Supports overall relaxation
- Helps to reduce shortness of breath
- Enhances the natural exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide
- Helps you increase the length of time you can be active
- Helps to break the connection between deep breathing and coughing
Practice this exercise four to five times a day. Here is how you do it:
- Keep your mouth closed and breathe in through your nose for the count of 2. Many people find it helpful to think to themselves, “inhale, 1, 2.” The breath doesn’t need to be overly deep. Just inhale as you typically would, but hold your “normal breath” for the 2-count.
- Now purse your lips as if you were going to whistle or blow on something hot.
- With your lips still pursed, exhale slowly to the count of 4. If it’s helpful, think to yourself, “exhale, 1, 2, 3, 4.” There’s no need to blow the breath out with force. Just exhale at the rate you usually do.
- Repeat a few times.
BREATHING EXERCISES FOR COPD TIP! Use the pursed-lip breathing technique just before you begin a strenuous activity, such as climbing the stairs.
- Breathing Exercises for COPD #2: Diaphragmatic (Belly) Breathing
The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle that sits just below the lungs. When we inhale, the diaphragm contracts and allows the lungs to inflate. When we exhale, the diaphragm relaxes and moves upward, playing a vital role in pushing carbon dioxide out of the lungs.
The diaphragm does most of the “heavy lifting” when it comes to pushing stale air out of the body. But in the case of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, this vital muscle can’t function as well as it should. So neck, shoulder, and back muscles will try to compensate. But these muscles were never meant to help move air in and out of the lungs. The connection between deep breathing and coughing just gets stronger.
But you can strengthen your diaphragm so that it will take on more of the work of breathing, again.
Diaphragmatic –or belly- breathing takes a bit more skill that pursed-lips breathing. It’s best to see a physical therapist or respiratory health professional so you can learn to do it properly. However, the steps outlined below will help you understand the basics of belly breathing.
Like the pursed-lips method, diaphragmatic breathing has several benefits. Not the least of these is a reduction in the connection between deep breathing and coughing. Belly breathing should be done while sitting back or lying flat.
- Take a moment to relax your shoulders before beginning.
- Place the palm of one hand on your chest, and rest the palm of the other on your belly.
- Breathe in through the nose for a count of 2. Again, you can mentally think “inhale, 1, 2” to help properly space your inhaling and exhaling.
- Notice how your belly rises as you inhale. The stomach should rise more than your chest does.
- Now, using pursed lips, exhale slowly through your mouth. As you do, gently press down with the palm that is resting on your belly. Doing this pushes your diaphragm up against the bottom of your lungs, helping to expel stale air and carbon dioxide.
- Repeat as directed by your physical therapist or respiratory health professional.
BREATHING EXERCISES FOR COPD TIP! Take several seconds between repetitions to “reset,” then continue with your reps.
- Breathing Exercises for COPD #3: Coordinated Breathing
Have you ever noticed how the anxiety that comes with feeling short of breath makes your breaths shallower? Often, the anxiety even causes you to hold your breath. Coordinated breathing is a two step exercise that helps avert this tendency and reduces anxiety.
- As with exercises #1 and #2, begin by breathing in through the nose. There is no two-count with this exercise. Just inhale as normally as you can.
- With pursed lips, exhale through the mouth during the most challenging part of the exercise.
BREATHING EXERCISES FOR COPD TIP! This exercise is especially helpful when you feel anxious or begin to have trouble breathing while doing an activity.
- Breathing Exercises for COPD #4: Deep Breathing
This is another two-step exercise. Deep breathing helps prevent air from becoming trapped in the lungs. It is this trapped air that can cause feelings of shortness of breath. The deep breathing exercise helps get more fresh air reach deep into your lungs and relieves the short-of-breath sensation.
- Begin by sitting or standing with shoulders and elbows slightly back. Keeping your shoulders and elbows slightly back helps your chest expand more fully.
- Breathe in deeply through the nose.
- Do not exhale. Hold the breath for a count of five.
- Now, still through the nose, exhale slowly and deeply. Keep the exhalation up until it feels like all the air you inhaled has been released.
- Repeat a few times.
BREATHING EXERCISES FOR COPD TIP! This exercise works best when done with other daily breathing exercises. Plan your daily breathing exercises for COPD about 10 minutes per session, 3 or 4 times daily.
- Breathing Exercises for COPD #5: The Huff Cough
This is probably the only time when deep breathing and coughing afterward is a good thing for people with COPD! With chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, mucus builds up more readily inside the lungs. A huff cough is designed to be less tiring than a natural cough while helping rid the lungs of mucus effectively. Done properly, the huff cough should help clear the lungs without the fatigue and anxiety that accompanies natural, spontaneous coughing.
- To begin, seat yourself in such a way that your back is comfortably upright (as with a straight back chair, for example).
- With your lips parted, breathe in through your mouth. The inhalation should be a little deeper than your normal breathing.
- Remember the second exercise: diaphragmatic breathing? This is where that training really comes into its own. In three even breaths, use your belly muscles to push the air back out. When you do, make the sound “ha,” each time. In other words, you push the air back out crisply by saying “ha, ha, ha.”
BREATHING EXERCISES FOR COPD TIP! To get the right force behind each “ha,” imagine that you are blowing on a wintery window to make it steam up.
How to Help Stop Feeling Short of Breath During Breathing Exercises for COPD
It is perfectly natural to feel short of breath when doing these exercises, especially when you are first learning to do them. But with time and consistency in doing the exercises, the shortness of breath should improve. The tip below not only work for when you’re practicing your exercises but when shortness of breath occurs during any other activities.
Here’s what to do when you experience shortness of breath:
- Stop the activity that has brought on the shortness of breath.
- Do a “reset” by sitting down, relaxing your shoulders, and beginning pursed-lips breathing until your breathing normalizes.
- Once you have it under control continue your exercises or activity, doing pursed-lips breathing as needed
- Listen to your body. If you need to go a little slower for a while, do so. Eventually, you’ll be able to more as your practice improves.
The Important Thing is to Not Give Up!
You are not alone in this. 15.7 million Americans are reported to have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. But with proper treatment and by practicing these simple breathing exercises for COPD you can manage symptoms like wheezing, tight chest, shortness of breath, and mucus build up in the lungs.
Managing your symptoms with the right therapy and breathing exercises for COPD can help you breathe more fully and easily. Being able to breathe better is basic to being able to return to activities: from the simple act of walking to the mailbox, to getting out more with friends and family, to joining that dance class you always wanted to take. More activity helps you with weight management, improves every aspect of health, and leads to a better sense of wellbeing.
Today, COPD therapy with stem cells is quickly outpacing the conventional methods of treatment because stem cell therapy can address the damage done by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on a cellular level. It helps many patients reduce their dependency on medication.
In the United States, stem cell clinics must be in compliance with FDA guidelines. The National Stem Cell Institute (NSI) urges all patients to thoroughly research any clinic they are considering for stem cell therapy. Below, NSI has tips to help you find a fully licensed stem cell clinic with doctors experienced in regenerative medicine methods.
What to Look for in a Stem Cell Medical Clinic
When searching for a qualified stem cell therapy center it’s important to remember that not all of them are created equal. Stem cells, when used properly, are your body’s most powerful means for healing that can repair everything from ligaments, tendons, and cartilage to organs including your liver, pancreas and lungs and even neurological tissue like your brain, nerves, and spinal cord.
Unfortunately, the majority of so-called “regenerative medicine clinics” in the world aren’t trained in the latest, most technologically advanced procedures and will, therefore, provide poor results if any.
The good news is the National Stem Cell Institute (NSI) has established the most advanced stem cell and platelet rich plasma procedures on the planet which has drawn patients from all over the world as well as professional athletes and celebrities because they are recognized as the best in the world at stem cell therapy.
What makes NSI Stem Cell the top stem cell clinic in the world is demonstrated in 5 key areas:
1. Highly trained and experienced, board-certified doctors and team members who have performed stem cell procedures on thousands of patients with incredible results.
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Patients have raved about their experience at NSI Stem Cell Clinics testifying that it was their unique cutting-edge procedures that helped them experience a breakthrough when nothing else worked.
If you want to learn more about NSI Stem Cell Clinics, you can set up a complimentary consultation today to see if you are a candidate. You can contact the National Stem Cell Institute at (877) 278-3623.
* Disclaimer: Individual patient results may vary. As each patient’s problem is different, each treatment must be tailored around your specific needs.