For the most part, many of us don’t see breathing as an area in which we require improvement. Breathe in, exhale...no after thought required. It’s simple, right? Wrong! As we age, lung capacity tends to decrease over time due to aging tissues. That’s why it’s important we emphasize healthy breathing by increasing our lung capacity. We can do so by implementing a few key exercises to our daily routine.
1. Belly Breathing
Belly breathing, also known as “Diaphragmatic breathing”, conditions your diaphragm which is primarily responsible for the breathing mechanism in your lungs. If you’re unsure how to do this, ask your medical practitioner how it should be done. The COPD Foundation recommends to start by doing the following:
Relax your shoulders. Sit back or lie down.
Lay one hand on your belly and one on your chest.
Inhale through your nose for two seconds. Feel the air move into your abdomen and feel your stomach move out. Your stomach should move more than your chest does.
Breathe out for two seconds through pursed lips (while pressing on your abdomen).
Rinse and repeat.
2. Breathing through Pursed Lips
The goal for the pursed-lip breathing technique is to slow your breathing down to open your airways for longer periods of time. In doing so, the function of your lungs will improve as well as the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. To practice this type of breathing, doing the following:
Inhale through your nostrils (slowly).
Purse your lips (imagine you are about to blow on something).
Breathe out slowly.
Rinse and repeat.
Try these techniques out and take note of your breathing patterns on a regular basis. If you’re consistent, your lung capacity should improve over time. Note that the second technique listed here should prove to be a little less difficult if you’re a beginner, so you may want to start by breathing through pursed lips. Best of luck in keeping your lungs strong and healthy!