Everyone should practice effective diaphragmatic and pursed lip breathing to assure optimal gas exchange with rest and activity. Coordinated breathing exercises help to minimize shortness of breath and assure adequate oxygen to your work muscles. Pursed lip/diaphragmatic breathing patterns are effective.
Pursed Lip Breathing
The purpose of pursed lip breathing is to help remove the stale air from your lungs by keeping the airways open:
1. Inhale through your nose with your mouth closed, try to take in a normal amount of air.
2. Exhale slowly through your mouth with your lips in the whistling or kissing position. Do not force the air out.
3. Breathe out for twice as long as you breathe in.
Do not take in a large deep breath. Never try to force all the air out of your lungs. The resistance created by breathing out through pursed lips slows down the rate of breathing, and creates a backpressure, which helps the lungs' airways to remain open.
As you practice this technique, it will become easier and require less conscious effort.
The purpose of coordinated breathing is to help assure adequate oxygen to your working muscles and to help prevent you from holding your breath.
1. Inhale before starting the exercise.
2. Exhale through the most exerting part of the exercise (for example, if you are lifting a weight, exhale as you lift up).
3. Inhale through the second part of the exercise (when you lower the weight).
Inhale through your nose (if your nose is stuffy, do as much as you can through your nose), and exhale through pursed lips.
If coordinating your breathing is difficult, try counting each repetition out loud; this helps prevent you from holding your breath.
If you become very short of breath, stop the exercise, use pursed lip breathing to help control your breathing and catch your breath. Then, start the exercise again.
Remember, pursed lip breathing and breathing coordination take practice to master. Keep practicing and the techniques will become more automatic and natural.
Hint/biofeedback: Place one hand on your upper chest and your other hand on your stomach, practice breathing with your diaphragm by letting your stomach/hand rise as you breath in thru your nose and letting your stomach/hand fall as you exhale thru pursed lips. The hand on your chest, should not move--your stomach should rise and fall.
Hint: While exercising your perceived breathlessness should not exceed a mild to moderate level. This would be a 2 to 3 on a 0 to 10 scale where slight shortness of breath is 0.5 and severe shortness of breath and needing to stop the activity would be a 10.
One of the best means of exercising the lungs is singing. I have one lung, and find singing very useful exercise (it was also an advantage to have been a singer before surgery in terms of how to breathe afterwards).
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