Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a respiratory condition that takes a toll on a person’s breathing ability. Studies suggest that it often stems from diseases like chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The most recurring symptoms of COPD are shortness of breath, chest tightness, and wheezing, and increased mucus retention in the lungs.
Since COPD is an incessant health condition, the patient has to find ways to live with it but without compromising on the quality of life.
The most important thing a COPD patient has to do is carry out breathing exercises to improve their respiration. Over the years, medical experts and pulmonary specialists have come up with multiple breathing techniques for COPD patients. The best thing about these exercises is you can do them at home without needing professional assistance.
1. Deep Breathing
Deep breathing exercises for COPD are the easiest and most effective to improve your respiration while experiencing chest congestion or shortness of breath. The rationale behind deep breathing for COPD is pretty simple: It prevents air from getting trapped in the lungs, which is responsible for the feeling of breath shortness.
When a person breathes deep, they can take in more fresh air and breathe without feeling that uncomfortable feeling of obstruction inside the lungs.
Carrying out deep breathing and finessing it is not difficult.
- Stand or sit in a straight posture. Keep your elbows slightly back so that chest can expand to more volume.
- Inhale as deeply as possible through the nostrils.
- Hold your breath for a couple of seconds (e.g., count to five in your mind).
- Exhale out the air slow and deep through the nostrils until you feel you are ready for the next inhale.
You can do this exercise both indoors and outdoors. The better is to pick a place where clean, fresh air is amply available. Do this exercise in a set of 10-15 three to four times a day.
2. Pursed-Lip Breathing
Pursed-lip breathing is also considered an effective COPD lung exercise. Research suggests that continued pursed-lip breathing exercises entail many benefits. To begin with, like deep breathing, it helps release the trapped air in the lungs. It also relaxes respiratory muscles and lets you exert less effort in breathing.
Pursed-lip breathing is also beneficial for healthy individuals who experience shortness of breath after an intensive session of workout or any other high-endurance physical activity.
- Sit or stand in a comfortable position.
- Take a deep breath through the nostrils and keep your mouth closed. A 2-second inhale will suffice.
- Now, contract your lips to make a ring as if you are about to whistle or blow a flame. This lip contraction is called pursed lips.
- Keep your lips pursed and release the air through the mouth.
- Don’t push too hard while exhaling. Let the air come out naturally from the mouth.
In the beginning, you may find it hard to exhale through pursed lips because our muscle memory is wired to produce strong air blows from the mouth. But with practice, you will be able to get around it. Ideally, the exhale in pursed-lip breathing should be twice the duration of the inhale. Like deep breathing, also do this exercise 3-4 times a day.
3. Device-Assisted Breathing
As the name suggests, you will need a respiratory training device to carry out this breathing exercise for COPD. Thankfully, this device is not like other high-tech medical devices. It is a simple non-electric apparatus that you can operate on your own. It consists of a valve, nozzle (mouthpiece), and a nose clamp.
- Sit in a well-ventilated space.
- Put a clamp on your nose.
- Put the nozzle in the mouth.
- Adjust the air pressure through the valve and breathe through your mouth.
You can set different air pressures to increase or decrease the difficulty level of breathing. By doing deep breathing exercises for COPD through the device, you strengthen your respiratory muscle, helping you breathe easily while feeling chest congestion or shortness of breath.
4. Diaphragmatic Breathing
The diaphragm is a layer of muscle between the lungs and stomach. It plays an important role in forceful respiration. However, most people don’t need to use it; therefore, it remains dormant. This COPD lung exercise is meant to activate the diaphragm to facilitate respiration with COPD symptoms.
- Lay down on your back.
- Put one hand on your chest and the other on the stomach.
- Inhale through the nostrils and feel your belly rising.
- Exhale the air through mouth with pursed lips and also gently press your stomach so that diaphragm can push more air out.
5. Huff Cough
As mentioned earlier, mucus buildup in the lungs is one of the symptoms of COPD, and this breathing exercise is suggested for taking out the mucus without exhaustion and irritation.
- Inhale regularly through the nostrils.
- Then cough it out in three breaths through the mouth as if you are making a sarcastic laughing sound. You will need to use your abdominal muscles for this type of exhalation.
Huff cough breathing makes it less tiresome than regular cough to get rid of mucus.
As you can see, all these exercises and techniques for COPD are DIY. Except for #3, you can do all exercises without needing any device. For device-assisted exercise, you should consider Orygen Dual Valve. The regular and right use of this device strengthens your inspiratory and expiratory muscles. Subsequently, strengthened respiratory muscles can help you fight shortness of breath and other COPD symptoms without needing medicines and professional intervention.