Humans can go days without eating and drinking but not even a few minutes without breathing. Breathing provides our cells with oxygen and gets rid of the toxins.
The fact that all bodily function can give way if breathing were to be affected highlights the importance of breathing and the organ which enables this process i.e., lungs. Therefore, taking care of the respiratory system is of the utmost importance.
Today, as our environment has become polluted with various toxic gases, it has become that much more crucial to protect our lungs. With the emergence of Covid-19, lung complications are on the rise.
Covid-19 causes pneumonia, a condition that is marked by fluid buildup within the lungs. The lungs then are unable to take oxygen and the patients end up on ventilators needing help with their breathing.
Covid-19-induced pneumonia creates lasting breathing difficulties for the patient even after recovery.
The respiratory problems caused by Covid-19 are not new. Smoking has always been a leading cause of lung cancer. Asbestos, a heat-resistant mineral used extensively in construction and other industries, also affects the respiratory and lung health of people exposed to it.
Unfortunately, majority of the companies voluntarily expose their workers to asbestos by making them work in environments containing the mineral. These workers are rarely informed of the risks involved and end up contracting the mesothelioma cancer—which is a terminal cancer resulting from long-term asbestos exposure. If you or any one in your family has contracted the cancer, you should immediately locate an attorney to sue the company for compensation, so that you can pursue better treatment options in treating mesothelioma.
As aerobic exercises can help improve our cardiovascular health, breathing exercises can make our lungs more efficient.
Below is a list of breathing exercises to try for a healthy respiratory system.
- 1.Pursed lips breathing
This simple exercise is extremely effective and can be performed anywhere and at any time of the day. Pursed lips breathing improves the lung efficiency by increasing oxygen uptake and the amount of carbon dioxide exhaled.
You are supposed to slowly inhale through your nose while keeping your mouth closed. Then, purse your lips to slowly exhale air as if you were blowing or whistling. You need to make sure that the exhale time is twice that of the inhale time. This exercise should be repeated 4 – 5 times a day.
- 2. Diaphragmatic breathing
This exercise strengthens the lungs, encourages a complete oxygen exchange, stabilizes blood pressure, decreases the pressure on the thorax, and improves the working of the diaphragm. Singers use this exercise to improve their lung capacity.
You need to lie on your back and relax your shoulders. With a light object placed on the belly, slowly inhale through your nose and exhale through the mouth. The object on your belly should move up and down with each breath as you try to breathe using your diaphragm and not the chest. This technique can be repeated 2 – 3 times a day.
- 3. Deep breathing
This focused breathing technique is a highly recommended breathing exercise as it helps keeps the lungs healthy and expands the lung capacity by preventing air from being trapped inside the lungs. It can help you feel more relaxed and relieves shortness of breath as well.
You can perform this exercise while sitting or standing. To perform this, deeply inhale through your nose, hold the breath for about 5 seconds, and then exhale slowly through the nose.
It is also advisable to imagine that you are letting in positivity and calm when inhaling and breathing out negativity and stress as you exhale. You can practice this technique for 10 minutes and increase time as your focus improves.
- 4. Rib-stretch breathing
This is another lung strengthening exercise where you expand your ribs while breathing causing the lungs to take in the maximum amount of air possible. It helps in lowering the heart rate as well as the blood pressure. Breathing this way protects the body from the effects of the stress hormone called cortisol, and can also help relieve the symptoms of PTSD.
Stand up straight and keep your hands on your hips. Inhale slowly through your nose to maximum lung capacity. Hold the breath for about 20 seconds and then slowly exhale. Repeat this exercise about 5 – 6 times.
- 5. Ocean breath
This yoga technique improves your ability to focus, control body temperature, and ensures a healthy respiratory system.
Close your eyes and sit on the ground with a neutral spine alignment. Take long, deep breaths through the mouth. You then need to first contract your throat while exhaling and then contract again while inhaling.
When you are able to constrict your throat on both inhales and exhales, then close your mouth and start breathing through your nose. When your lungs are completely full hold the breath for a few seconds and then exhale.
- 6. Skull-shining breath
This technique builds strength in your lungs. With smaller exhaling periods and longer inhaling ones, you can also increase your concentration.
Keep your spine straight and sit on the ground in the lotus pose—your hands should be on your knees with the palms facing the sky. You need to take a deep breath through the nose and when exhaling focus on moving the abdomen closer towards the spine. This process can be repeated 10 times.
- 7. Alternate nostril breathing
This breathing exercise should be done on an empty stomach. Not only will this exercise improve your cardiovascular function but it also promotes relaxation by reducing stress and anxiety.
Sit on the ground with your legs crossed. First, your left hand should be placed on your left knee with the palm facing upwards. Join the thumb and index finger of your left hand.
The right hand comes towards the nose. After an exhale, the right-hand’s thumb is used to close the right nostril. Inhale through the left nostril and then close that nostril using the index finger of the right hand. Remove the thumb from the right nostril and exhale through it. Then open the left nostril and exhale through it. This cycle can be repeated for about 5 minutes.
- 8. Coordinated breathing
This simple breathing technique is advisable for relieving shortness of breath as well as anxiety.
This breathing technique is simple and can be performed in two steps. Inhale through your nose and exhale while pursing the lips.
- 9. Resonant breathing
Also known as coherent breathing, this technique reduces depression and stress while increasing the heart rate.
Inhale to the count of 5 and exhale for the same count. This practice can be repeated for a few minutes.
- 10. Equal breathing
This is another yoga practice that relaxes the central nervous system and helps improve focus by silencing our thoughts.
You need to inhale and exhale through your nose while sitting. The time taken to inhale should be equal to the time take to exhale. This can be done for at least 5 minutes.
These breathing exercises are an easy and efficient way to keep your lungs in their best throughout your life. It is important to note that that these exercises alone cannot ensure the longevity of our lungs. We must maintain a healthy lifestyle along with it. A healthy lifestyle includes: proper hydration, healthy diet and staying away from smoking and asbestos-polluted environments.