[Healthline] Breathing exercises for COPD patients



Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a health condition that affects an individual’s ability to breathe normally. It is often associated with other conditions such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Symptoms include:

  • Wheeze
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • A large amount of mucus accumulates in the lungs

This condition can get worse over time, but practicing breathing exercises can help you manage these symptoms.

When you exercise regularly, breathing exercises can help you reduce the strain on everyday activities. They can also aid you in getting back into exercise, which can leave you feeling energized.

Read on to learn about five exercises that can be especially helpful for people with COPD:

  • pursed lips
  • Coordinated breathing
  • Deep breath
  • Cough buff – (practice dry cough, cough with phlegm)
  • Diaphragm breathing

Breathe pursed lips

According to the Cleveland Clinic, pursed-lip breathing has many benefits:

  • Shown to reduce effort when you breathe
  • Helps release trapped air in the lungs.
  • Promote relaxation.
  • Reduces shortness of breath.

Practicing this technique 4 to 5 times per day can be helpful. Here’s how to practice pursed-lip breathing:

  • While closing your mouth, take a deep breath through your nose, then count to 2. Follow this pattern by repeating in your head “inhale, 1, 2”. The breath doesn’t have to be deep. Do it as if you were to inhale normally
  • Place your lips together as if you were starting to whistle or blow out the candles on the birthday cake. This is called “pursing” the lips.
  • While continuing to purse your lips, exhale slowly by counting to 4. Don’t try to push the air out, but exhale slowly through your mouth.

Exercise tips: Pursed-lip breathing is the best way to perform strenuous activities, such as climbing stairs.

Coordinated breathing

Feeling short of breath can cause anxiety that makes you hold your breath. To prevent this from happening, you can practice coordinated breathing using these two steps:

  • Inhale through your nose before starting the exercise.
  • While pursed your lips, exhale through your mouth when it comes to the heavy lifting in the exercise. An example might be when doing a one-arm lift (Bicep Curl exercise).

Exercise tips: Collaborative breathing can be done when you are exercising or feeling anxious.

Deep breath

Deep breathing prevents air from getting trapped in your lungs, which can make it hard to breathe. As a result, you can breathe more fresh air.

Here’s how to practice deep breathing:

  • Sit or stand with elbows slightly back. This allows your breasts to expand more fully.
  • Breathe deeply through your nose.
  • Hold your breath as you count to 5.
  • Release the air by exhaling slowly and deeply through your nose until you feel the inhaled air released.

Exercise tips: It is best to do this exercise with other daily breathing exercises, which can be done for 10 minutes each and repeated 3-4 times in a day.

Ho Huff

When you have COPD, mucus can build up more easily in your lungs. The Cough Huff is a breathing exercise designed to help you cough up mucus effectively without making you feel too tired.

Here’s how to practice a Huff cough:

  • Prepare a comfortable seat. Breathe in through your mouth, a little deeper than you normally would.
  • Use your abs to blow the air out for three breaths while making a “ha, ha, ha” sound. Imagine you are blowing into a mirror to make it vaporize.

Exercise tips: A huff cough will be less tiring than a traditional cough, and it can help keep you from getting tired of coughing up mucus.

Diaphragm breathing

The diaphragm is an important organ involved in breathing.

People with COPD tend to rely on the accessory respiratory muscles in the neck, shoulders, and back to breathe rather than rely on the diaphragm.

Breathing with your diaphragm or belly helps you learn to use this muscle again for more efficient breathing. Here’s how to do it:

  • While sitting or lying down, relax your shoulders, place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
  • Inhale through your nose for 2 seconds, feeling your stomach turn outward. If your abs work more than your chest, you’ve done the right technique. Pinch your lips and exhale slowly through your mouth, pressing gently on your abdomen. This will enhance the ability of the diaphragm to release air.
  • You can repeat it a few times to get used to it.

Exercise tips: This technique can be more complicated than the other exercises, so it’s best to practice a little more. If you have difficulty, talk to your doctor or respiratory specialist.


According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), people with COPD who use breathing exercises experience more improvement in exercise capacity than those who don’t.

The AAFP says that other potential benefits include:

  • Reducing shortness of breath,
  • Improve quality of life

Medically reviewed by Deborah Weatherspoon, Ph.D., RN, CRNA — Written by Rachel Nall, MSN, CRNA — Updated on April 22, 2020


Original link: https://www.healthline.com/health/copd/breathing-exercises

The article is translated and edited by ykhoa.org – please do not reup without permission!

Translated by: Danh Cuong

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