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Breathing exercises to strengthen your lungs in Covid-19 era

Breathing Exercises

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 affects the lungs and respiratory system, causing considerable damage in certain cases. COVID-19 frequently causes pneumonia and, in severe cases, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Regaining lung function is possible, but it may take months of therapy and exercise once the illness has been treated.

Breathing exercises can help your lungs become more efficient and may lessen the burden of COVID-19 before, during, and after a confirmed diagnosis. Deep breathing exercises can also help reduce emotions of anxiety and tension, which are prevalent in those who have had severe symptoms or have been admitted to the hospital. These breathing techniques may help improve sleep quality. It can also clear mucus, restore saturation levels, and help the body cope with the infection. Clinical studies have also found that for COVID patients, specific breathing strategies, such as pursed-lip breathing, can significantly minimise shortness of breath and problems.

Aside from that, deep breathing can aid a patient in the midst of a recovery, relieve tension and worry and heal faster. Doctors now actively advocate yoga asanas and deep breathing exercises to COVID+ patients in order to increase oxygenation, strengthen lung function, and be readily performed by a patient in home isolation. Even when external oxygen support options are limited, these breathing exercises can provide brief comfort and increase oxygen levels.

1. Diaphragmatic Breathing (Belly Breathing)

Diaphragmatic Breathing Breathing
Source – Yoga Basics

Deep breathing restores lung function by using the diaphragm. Breathing via the nose helps to strengthen the diaphragm and stimulates the nervous system to relax and heal itself.
It is crucial not to rush when recovering from a respiratory infection such as COVID-19. Begin by sitting or lying down comfortably. Place the tip of your tongue behind your top front teeth while resting comfortably. Close your eyes and keep your back straight. Breathe normally for a few seconds, then place one hand on your chest and one on your abdomen.
Deeply inhale through your nose, feeling your ribcage stretch and your stomach extend outwards. Exhale while stretching your stomach inwards. Breathe slowly and deeply up to 10 times in a row.

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2. Yawn to a Smile

Yawn to a Smile Breathing
Source – Freepik

This breathing exercise encourages the muscles in the chest to relax, allowing the diaphragm to fully expand and control oxygen flow.
To begin this exercise, sit up straight with your back straight. Stretch your arms up to your shoulders. Now, spread your mouth wide as though to yawn. As you do so, put your arms back to rest on your thighs and try to turn that yawn into a smile.

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3. Pursed Lip Breathing

Pursed Lip Breathing  Breathing
Source – Eco Health Lab

Pursed lip breathing exercises are one of the most effective techniques to increase oxygen intake while keeping your airways open.
Sit in a relaxed stance to try this technique. Now, take several calm, deep breaths in through your nose. The mouth should be kept shut. Purse your lips before exhaling, and then slowly expel all the air from your lungs.
The goal of pursed breathing is to strive to exhale for longer periods of time than you inhale. For the best results, repeat this exercise multiple times.

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4. Humming while Exhaling

Humming While Exhaling
Source – Shutterstock

Humming, such as the chanting of “om” in yoga, aids in the creation of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide stimulates neuronal plasticity (nervous system creation and repair) and dilates blood vessels, allowing more oxygen to be carried throughout the body. Humming is also peaceful and comforting; it relieves stress and can assist the patient in staying in a healing state.
Sit up straight with your back straight and one hand on either side of your lower abdomen. Keep your lips closed and place your tongue softly on the roof of your mouth. Deeply and slowly inhale through your nose, keeping your lips closed and your tongue in place. As your stomach expands, allow your fingers to stretch wide. Do not allow your shoulders to raise. Exhale while humming after your lungs are full and repeat numerous times.

5. Pranayama

Source – Yogaenred

Pranayama is one of the most effective breathing exercises for expanding lung capacity, strengthening immunity, and soothing the nerves. It is best to start with an empty stomach.
Begin pranayama by sitting in a cross-legged position or kneeling on the ground. Extend your body slightly with your shoulders over your hips and your head arched over your shoulders. Inhale a deep breath that stretches all the way to your spine, then gently exhale. Hold this stance for at least ten breaths.

6. Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anulom Vilom)

Anulom Vilom
Source – Gaia

Anulom Vilom assists in the removal of contaminants from the lungs, the clearance of excess fluid, and the management of oxygenated blood flow in the lungs. It’s also an excellent technique to improve immunity and lung capacity.
Sit cross-legged with your hands on your knees. Place your right thumb on your right nose and close your eyes. Deeply inhale via your left nostril for up to four breaths. Similarly, seal and grasp your left nostril with your right finger. Lift your right thumb and breathe deeply after 2 seconds. Repeat this method up to 5 minutes before or after eating, preferably 2 hours before or after. Make an effort to focus on your breathing.


While dynamic breathing stretches and exercises can assist improve lung function and reduce the risk of respiratory problems, a Covid+ patient should avoid high-intensity activities and wait to see how they feel first.
These workouts are best suited for people who have mild to moderate Covid-19 symptoms.
Patients suffering from a fever, shortness of breath, palpitations, or chest pain should refrain from performing any of these activities.
Remember to gradually raise your pace and not overexert yourself. Some of these activities could be performed if you notice a drop or fluctuation in your oxygen levels. If done on a regular basis, pronal breathing or pronal position can also assist improve oxygen levels. Do consult your doctor before trying any of these exercises.

Feature Image Credits – Aditya Birla Capital

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