People who suffer from asthma are all too familiar with the uncomfortable symptoms, but self-taught breath retraining has been proven to help.
How the Exercises Help
In the same way physical exercise leads to stronger muscles, breathing exercises can help with ease of breathing throughout the day. In asthma patients, stale air can accumulate in the lungs, leading to a depletion of oxygen levels throughout the body. Breathing exercises help rid the lungs of that trapped air, also helping the diaphragm.
Lung function and airway inflammation aren’t physically improved by these exercises, but they can significantly enhance a patient’s quality of life.
There are a variety of at-home breathing exercises commonly utilized by asthmatics. Here are three of the more common:
- Diaphragmic Breathing — Also known as belly breathing, diaphragmic breathing is when you breathe in through your nose, then out through your mouth for at least two to three times longer than your inhale. While breathing, you should use your hands or a light object to observe your belly rising and falling as you breathe. Relax your neck and shoulders before starting. This exercise is designed to retrain your diaphragm, so it can be better used for normal breathing.
- Pursed Lip Breathing — When performing pursed lip breathing exercise, you purse your lips, then breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Like diaphragmic breathing, you breathe out at least twice as long as you breathe in. The pursed lip breathing exercise keeps your airways open longer by reducing the number of breaths you take per minute.
- The Buteyko Method — This is a common exercise used when an asthmatic is short of breath. It is a kind of hyperventilation-reduction technique where you breathe slowly and shallowly through your nose until the asthmatic episode passes.
Learning the Exercises
It is common for patients to have a few sessions with a medical professional to learn the many breath training exercises they’ll regularly complete at home. However, a recent study suggested that being taught via video could be just as effective in teaching the proper techniques.
Regardless of how patients learn the proper breathing exercises, the most important thing is staying consistent. Do the exercises as recommended by your doctor, often as part of your daily routine, to help manage your asthma symptoms.