Your lung capacity is the entire amount of air which your lungs is able to hold. Over time, our lung capacity as well as lung function usually decrease gradually as we age after our mid-20s.
Some conditions – such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – may significantly speed up these reductions in lung capacity as well as functioning. This leads to challenges in breathing and shortness of breath.
Breathing feeds oxygen to every single cell in the body. Without enough oxygen, individuals are more prone to health problems, including respiratory illnesses. However ordinary, everyday breathing isn’t enough to keep the oxygen flowing through your body at peak levels.
Lungs at rest and during most day-to-day activities are only at 50% of their capacity. Like the rest of your body, lungs flourish on movement and activity. As regular day-to-day activity doesn’t assist you with using your lungs to full capacity, you need to challenge your lungs with more intense activity. In order to help offset the build-up of toxins as well as tar in the lungs which is caused by environmental pollutants, allergens, dust and cigarette smoke, you need to help your lungs cleanse themselves.
Diaphragmatic breathing, or “belly breathing”, involves the diaphragm, which is meant to do most of the heavy lifting when it comes down to breathing.
This technique is especially helpful in people who suffer from COPD, as the diaphragm isn’t as effective in these people and could be strengthened. The technique best utilised when feeling rested. If you suffer from COPD, ask your doctor or respiratory therapist to show you how to make use of this exercise for best results.
You should do the following in order to practise diaphragmatic breathing:
- Relax your shoulders and then sit back or lie down.
- Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.
- Inhale through your nose for two seconds. Feel the air moving into your abdomen and your stomach move out. Your stomach should move more than your chest does.
- Breathe out for two seconds through your pursed lips while pushing on your abdomen.
Pursed Lip Breathing
Pursed lip breathing may help to keep the airways open for longer to facilitate the flow of air in, and then out of, your lungs.
In order to perform pursed lip breathing:
- Sit up straight. Good posture can assist with promoting lung movement.
- Breathe in very deeply through your nose in a slow as well as controlled fashion.
- Purse your lips. They should be practically touching, as when making a “kissing” face.
- Breathe out through pursed lips. Preferably, the exhalation should be twice as much as the inhalation was.
Some individuals find it especially beneficial to focus on time, for instance by breathing in for five seconds and then breathing out for 10 seconds. It can assist to keep a clock which shows the seconds nearby. For individuals who are not very physically active and may not be exercising their breathing muscles often, pursed lip breathing may have specific benefits.
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