You have probably noticed when shortness of breath occurs in an athlete during periods of exercise—they tend to blow the air out of their mouths by puffing out their cheeks. You may have also done this when you’ve exerted yourself. This is a normal response to shortness of breath, and it provides for a quick and easy way to improve breathing patterns.
Remember, exhale 3-4 times longer than you inhale; do not force the air out.
- Sit up straight and relaxed.
- Breathe in—preferably through the nose.
- Purse lips slightly (as if to whistle).
- Breathe out slowly through pursed lips.
- Do not force the air out.
Practice this procedure 4-5 times a day initially to get the correct breathing pattern. You should utilize pursed-lip breathing when you are experiencing shortness of breath either at rest or with exertion, or if you feel nervous or apprehensive.
IMPORTANT: You may experience a lightheaded feeling while doing pursed-lip breathing. This indicates that you are over-ventilating yourself and you should breathe more slowly.
Many people with COPD no longer use this important breathing muscle effectively. With this exercise, you can better-utilize this muscle in the act of breathing.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent.
- Place one of your hands on your abdomen.
- Place your other hand on your upper chest.
- As you inhale through your nose, make your stomach move out and keep your upper chest as still as possible.
- As you exhale through pursed lips, let your stomach fall inward. Your hand on the upper chest must remain as still as possible during the entire procedure.
IMPORTANT: You will notice that an increased effort will be needed to utilize this muscle correctly. You will also notice—at first—that you will probably get tired doing this exercise. Keep at it! In a short time, you’ll notice that it will require less effort to breathe, and you will be rewarded by being able to do it with less effort.