Contributed by- Krushna Charan
Regular exercise has assumed great significance in the present time. As people are realising that it can play a big role in improving your health and reduce the risk of developing health conditions like diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular ailments. Although exercise can help manage asthma symptoms, some exercises can also trigger or worsen asthma symptoms. Since asthma narrows the airways in your lungs to where it’s hard to catch your breath, there are some breathing exercises that are beneficial for asthma patients that can help them improve the efficiency of the lungs and its breathing patterns. Read on to know about the various breathing exercises that can be beneficial in managing asthma effectively.
Breathing exercises can make regular exercise more effective?
Asthma is a medical condition that causes inflammation in the airways of the lungs. It can also cause some other symptoms like wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. This leads to mouth breathing, and because of this the lung function may decrease and worsen the symptoms of asthma. Regular exercise can also aggravate the symptoms of asthma by causing shortness of breath. Hence to be able to continue doing regular exercises you can opt for breathing exercises to be able to improve your lung function. Breathing exercises also lead to improved digestion, metabolism, and blood circulation in the body.
Breathing exercises can help gain control over asthma symptoms by opening the airways, moving the fresh air into the lungs, and reducing the effort of breathing. Here are a few types and procedures of breathing exercises you should know about if you have asthma.
The diaphragm is an important muscle that helps you breathe. This breathing exercise helps strengthen your diaphragm. This is also called belly breathing or abdominal breathing. In conditions such as asthma, the lungs lose some of their elasticity and make breathing difficult. This technique maximizes the distribution of air in your lungs, improves lung capacity, controls asthma symptoms by reducing the effort of breathing.
Steps to practice diaphragmatic breathing are:
- Sit in a comfortable position on a chair or lie flat on the floor.
- Put one hand on the chest and the other hand on your belly
- Breathe in through your nose and experience the air moving through your nostrils into your abdomen
- Now exhale slowly for about two seconds through your lips and make sure your lips are a little bit open
- Practice the technique until you can inhale and exhale by moving your chest
- Repeat these steps several times
Nasal breathing means breathing through the nose. First, the air is processed through the nose. It passes through the filter called cilia inside the nose. The air filter cilia add humidity and warmth to the air, which in turn, can ease the discomforting signs. You should try nasal breathing to reduce the effect of mouth breathing, which triggers the symptoms of asthma.
Steps to practice nasal breathing are:
- Sit comfortably with legs crossed
- Place your left hand on the left knee
- Raise your right hand and bring it closer to your nose
- Breathe out completely, then use your right thumb to block the right nostril
- Breathe in through the left nostril and then close the left nostril using fingers
- Open the right nostril and breathe out
- Take a deep breath through the right nostril again before closing it
- Open the left nostril and breathe out
- Repeat this cycle for about five minutes
This breathing technique teaches you how to breathe steadily and slowly from the diaphragm and through the nose. It also teaches you about stress management because stress can increase the severity, frequency and duration of asthma symptoms. Studies have shown that this particular technique helps ease breathing symptoms in asthma patients. It may not be beneficial for patients living with severe asthma.
Steps to practice the Papworth method are:
- Sit straight on a comfortable chair
- Slowly inhale through the nose
- Slowly breathe out through pursed lips (the lips are positioned in a way so as to blow out a candle)
- Just keep in mind that exhalation should be twice as long as the inhalation
- Repeat this cycle 3-5 times
Asthma patients tend to breathe faster and more deeply than others do. Buteyko breathing is recommended because breathing faster can trigger asthma symptoms. Buteyko breathing is a type of nasal breathing, which protects the airways by humidifying, warming, and cleaning the air that enters into the lungs. With this technique, you can learn to slow down your breathing rate.
Steps to practice Buteyko breathing are:
- Sit straight on a comfortable chair
- Relax your abdominal and chest muscles
- Take a deep breath and keep your face straight and eyes closed
- Slowly breathe out until you feel your lungs are no longer loaded up with air
- Hold your breath as long as you can before returning to gentle breathing
- Repeat these steps for some time
Pursed Lip Breathing
When you have an asthma attack, this breathing technique can be quite effective to manage the condition. This condition causes air to get trapped in the lungs. Pursed lip breathing technique works by moving oxygen into your lungs and carbon dioxide out of your lungs. This breathing technique helps to keep airways open so that you can exhale the air that is trapped in your lungs by reducing your breathing rate and relieving shortness of breath. This technique may help you exhale more air, thus making breathing easier.
Steps to practice pursed-lip breathing are:
- Sit in a comfortable position
- Slowly breathe in through your nose by keeping your mouth closed
- Hold it for 5 seconds, and breathe out through pursed lips as if you were about to blow a candle
- You should exhale twice as long as you inhale and let the air out of your lungs
- Repeat these steps several times
Some types of yoga poses are linked to deep breathing. Studies have shown that practising yoga regularly can prevent asthma flare-ups, and manage asthma symptoms. There are many postures in yoga that emphasizes deep breathing.
You can practice these yoga poses to manage asthma symptoms.
- Half spinal twist pose: This yoga pose opens your chest muscles and supplies more oxygen to the lungs, thereby preventing an asthma attack.
- Bridge pose: This yoga posture aids in providing one of the best ways to do breathing exercises for asthma patients by balancing your body to open up your lungs.
- Cobra pose: The cobra pose improves the circulation of blood and oxygen throughout the body. This exercise opens up the chest, clears the path of air from nose to your lungs, controls asthma symptoms.
- Easy pose – This pose relaxes the brain, broadens your chest, and reduces your stress level, which may help you to avoid certain circumstances that may trigger an asthma attack.
You can manage the symptoms of asthma by learning and practising these breathing exercises. However, before taking the plunge, you should consult with your doctor to ensure that they are safe for you. You can ask your doctor to recommend a respiratory therapist, who can teach you the right techniques to perform these exercises safely.