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How can breathing exercises help?

Breathing exercises have been used in many countries along-side medicines for asthma. Breathing exercises can help you with relaxation as well as control symptoms of asthma. Studies show there is no single best breathing exercise. Here, we will talk about two; pursed lip breathing and Belly Breathing.

A review of the studies on breathing and relaxation exercises for asthma reported improvements in asthma symptoms and quality of life. Breathing exercises may not reduce how often asthma attacks happen but they will help you relax and reduce your use of rescue medicine. Breathing exercises do not change the body or make asthma worse.

Pursed lip breathing

Pursed lip breathing reduces the number of breaths you take and keeps your airways open longer. More air is able to flow in and out of your lungs so you can be more physically active. To practice it, simply breathe in through your nose (count 1,2) and breathe out at least twice as long through your mouth (count 1,2,3,4), with pursed lips.

  1. Step 1: Relax neck and shoulder muscles
  2. Step 2: Breathe in slowly through your nose
  3. Step 3: Exhale through pursed lips

When you feel short of breath, pursed lip beathing helps get more oxygen into your lungs and calms you down so you can better control your breath. pursed lip breathing is a quick and easy way to slow how fast you are breathing, making each breath more effective.

Belly breathing

Start by breathing in through your nose (count 1,2,3). Breathe out through your mouth at least two to three times longer (count 1,2,3,4,5,6). Pay attention to how your belly fills up with air. You can put your hands lightly on your tummy, or place a toy or tissue box on it, so you can be aware of your belly rising and falling. Be sure to relax your neck and shoulders as you retrain your breathing muscles to take on the work of helping to fill and empty your lungs.

Belly breathing helps to slow down your breathing so you can catch your breath and use less energy to breathe. When you feel short of breath, belly breathing helps get more oxygen into your lungs and calms you down so you can better control your breath.

How often should you practice breathing exercises?

It is best to practice pursed lip breathing and belly breathing 5 to 10 minutes every day. You should practice enough so you can easily use them when you need them if your symptoms get worse.

For more information about Breathing Exercises, please watch Module 10 of the Asthma Education Video Modules available at www.kingcounty.gov/asthma/videos