Amazingly Simple Breathing Exercises to Improve Your Lung Health

In honor of National Relaxation Day, it’s worth considering the many ways in which simple breathing exercises can combat stress, aid sleep, and keep lungs healthy. Keeping your lungs healthy and full of fresh, oxygenated air, will give you more energy to power through your busy day. Deep breathing helps to reduce anxiety and lower your fight-or-flight response. In can also help to lower your heart rate and feel calmer. Over the long-term, relaxing and deep breathing can be a powerful stress-fighting technique that will improve your overall health.

The American Lung Association states that healthy lungs have a bit of springiness to them. When you’re afflicted with a respiratory ailment or as you age, your lungs lose elasticity over time. Stale air can also build up in the lungs of healthy individuals, making other muscles (like those of your neck and back) work harder to help you breathe. Breathing exercises are used to reduce losses of breathing efficiency, circulate stale air, increase your oxygen levels, and make you feel more alert.

According to EHE Doctor Fatima Hussain, deep breathing will help to make the lungs more efficient. Breathing correctly and proper self-care can go a long way toward stress prevention. Dr. Hussain explains that the right combination of eating healthfully, taking time to relax, a good exercise routine, sleeping well, and making time for socialization can help to prevent burn-out. Breathing exercises can play a vital role in this sort of stress reduction because they help to relax muscles when they tense up in response to stress, they also reduce your resting heart rate and lower blood pressure.

Dr. Hussian also notes that breathing exercises improve dyspnea (labored breathing) and anxiety, this makes them particularly useful for individuals with asthma, bronchitis, COPD, and PTSD or other stress-related anxiety disorders. Pulmonary rehabilitation specialists teach patients with these diseases similar exercises to the ones outlined below.

Examples of Breathing Exercises

If you want to improve your health through breathing exercises, here are a few exercises to try. Hussain recommends the following; you take a normal breath in through your nose for two counts, then exhale for four counts through puckered lips. When you release your breath, your mouth should look like you’re about to whistle. The American Lung Association, says this sort of exercise is good for the lungs since it reduces the number of breaths you take, by increasing your lung capacity and opening your airways for longer.

Another breathing exercise Dr. Hussain recommends is called diaphragmic, or belly breathing. To try this, first lay down on a comfortable surface. Next, breathe in through your nose and then breathe out through your mouth slowly, counting to 5 each time. Alternatively, you can also exhale out for about three times the length of your inhalation time; breathe in for two and out for six. In some instances, it might help to put your hands on your belly so that you can feel it lightly rise and fall as you breathe. When doing exercise, be sure to relax your neck and shoulders, they shouldn’t be doing any of the work. You should be filling your lungs using the muscles in your diaphragm.

A third favorite exercise is called the 4-7-8 exercise. To do this, you will push all of the air out of your lungs with a whooshing sound. Then shutting the mouth to breathe in through the nose for four counts. Next, hold your breath for seven counts. Finally, breathe out for eight counts. It is best to repeat this two more times, or longer if it does not make you too light-headed. The action and the amount of concentration it takes to perform this exercise acts as a natural calming agent for the body.

Practicing these breathing exercises for five to 10 minutes per day can have a dramatic impact on your health. The way you breathe affects your whole body. It helps to reduce your heart rate, relieve tension and alleviate stress by slowing your metabolism, raising levels of nitric oxide, and turning off your natural panic response. Regularly practicing these exercises will give you the skills to remain calm in stressful situations and lead you to a life of good health.

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