Exercises to improve lung health

Staying active and cardiovascular exercise is great for lung health and recovery from COVID. Any form of energetic exercise that makes you breathe more quickly is, in essence, a breathing exercise. This includes brisk walking, running, swimming, or any activity that increases heart rate and breathing rate.
Below are some of the exercises we can do to help make our lungs healthier.
1- Pursed lip breathing
Pursed lip breathing gets more oxygen into your lungs than regular breathing can. It also keeps your airways open longer by reducing the number of breaths you take per minute.
Follow these steps to try pursed-lip breathing:
  • Relax in a seated position with your neck and shoulder muscles unclenched.
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose for several counts with your mouth closed. (Your nose warms and humidifies the air before it reaches the lungs — breathing in through your mouth does not accomplish this.)
  • Before exhaling, purse your lips, as if you were going to blow out a candle.
  • Keeping your lips pursed, breathe out all of the air in your lungs slowly.
  • Try to exhale for a longer number of counts than you inhaled.
  • Repeat several times.
2- Belly breathing (diaphragmatic breathing)
You can do this exercise while sitting or lying down.
  • Relax your face, neck, jaw, and shoulder muscles.
  • Rest the tip of your tongue behind your top front teeth.
  • Straighten your back. Close your eyes.
  • Breathe normally for several minutes.
  • Place one hand on your chest and one on your lower abdomen.
  • Breathe deeply through your nose, feeling your chest and ribs expand when you inhale. Your stomach should expand outward against your hand.
  • Exhale, feeling your stomach gently contract inward.
  • Breath slowly and deeply in this manner nine to 10 times.
3- Yawn to a Smile
This breathing exercise opens up the muscles in the chest, which allows the diaphragm to fully expand. It also strengthens the arms and shoulder muscles.
Here’s how to do it:
  • Sit upright with a straight back.
  • Stretch your arms up to shoulder height. You should feel the muscles in your back stretching.
  • While your arms are at shoulder height, open your mouth wide, as if you were yawning.
  • Bring your arms back to rest on your thighs, while turning your yawn into a smile.
4- Humming while exhaling
Humming, such as the chanting of “om” in yoga, can help pull oxygen into the lungs with each breath. Many also find it can be calming.
Here are the steps for this exercise:
  • Sit upright with a straight back.
  • Place each hand on the sides of your lower abdomen.
  • Keep your lips closed and gently rest your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
  • Breathe deeply and slowly through your nose, keeping your lips closed and your tongue in position.
  • Allow your fingers to spread wide on your stomach as it expands.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed. Do not let them rise up.
  • Once your lungs feel full, exhale while humming. Make sure to keep your lips closed.
  • Repeat for several breaths.
** If you have COVID-19 and you have shortness of breath while resting, an irregular heartbeat, or chest pain, you may worsen your symptoms by exercising. Talk with your doctor before starting breathing exercises
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