Breathing exercises to increase lung capacity and clear the lungs

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  • April 16, 2020

5   Breathing exercises to  help coronavirus patients with respiratory symptoms

Your lung capacity is the total amount of air your lungs can hold. This can be affected over time as the lung capacity normally starts decreasing slowly as you pass your mid-20s.

Some conditions significantly speed up these reductions in lung capacity and functioning such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), leading to difficulties in breathing and shortness of breath.

You cannot change your lung capacity in terms of how much oxygen your lungs can hold. However, you can do some exercises that may help to maintain your lung capacity, making it easier to keep your lungs healthy and get your body the oxygen it needs.

Let’s have a closer look.

Breathing exercises

1.Rib Stretch:

  • Stand upright and exhale all the air from your lungs.
  • Slowly breathe in and expand your lungs to the maximum capacity.
  • Hold the air for about 20 seconds or what is comfortable for you. While counting, place both hands on your hips with your thumbs facing front with pinkies touching the small of your back.
  • Exhale the air slowly, relax and repeat three more times.

2. Deep Breathing  followed by cough 

  •  taking five deep breaths in
  •  holding your breath each time for five seconds
  •  on the sixth deep breath, as you exhale, cough deeply 3 times  .
  •  repeat once then, lay flat on your front and breathe slightly deeper for 10 minutes.

3. Deep Breathing

  • Sit straight but with your shoulder relaxed
  • Take a deep breath in
  • Breath out fast with your mouth open
  • Have a pause and repeat it a couple of times

4. Pursed Lip Breathing exercise 

  •  This technique involves breathing in through your nose
  • breathing out slowly through the mouth with pursed lips 
  • Repeat couple of times

5. Diaphragmatic (belly) breathing

  • Sit straight with shoulders and neck relax or do it in your bed
  • Breathing in through your nose
  • Put your hands lightly on your stomach to feel your belly full of air
  • Breathe out through your mouth at least two to three times as long as your inhale

These exercises reduce the number of breaths you have to take and keep your airways open for more time. More air can flow in and out of your lungs; this means your lung capacity increases so you can be more physically active.

Drink fluids

Be sure you are drinking enough fluids, they loosens phlegm.  Dehydration makes phlegm sticks more to the lungs, so is going to be very difficult to cough it up. Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. What you drink should be caffeine free fluids like water or fruit juices.


Exercise has many benefits for your overall health and lung health, in particular. While you exercise, your muscles need more oxygen. This increases demand on your lungs to take in air, and your heart to circulate blood. With regular exercise, your Muscles will become stronger and more efficient using less oxygen. It can help lessen some of the symptoms of bronchitis. Also, when you are properly hydrated, exercise can loosen nasal congestion and open your sinuses.

Although exercising may be more difficult if you have chronic lung conditions, but you can benefit from regular exercise too.  Take into account that, if you have COPD, cystic fibrosis, or asthma, you should ask your doctor before starting an exercise regimen.

For more detailed information about how our physios or osteopaths can help with congested chest feel free to contact us. We’re happy to help.  Remember you can book a video consultation on 02079932720

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