Breath Training for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
If you have severe
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you may
find you take quick, small, shallow breaths. This pattern may be less effective
for moving air in and out of the lungs. Breath training can help you reduce
Three basic breath training methods are diaphragmatic breathing,
pursed-lip breathing, and breathing while bending forward. They can be used to
help you get over times when you feel more short of breath, but they must be
practiced regularly for you to do them well.
Diaphragmatic breathing helps your lungs expand so that they take in more air. Lie on your back or prop yourself up on several
pillows. With one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest, breathe in,
pushing the abdomen outward as far as possible. You should be able to feel the
hand on your abdomen moving out, while the hand on your chest should not move.
When you breathe out, you should be able to feel the hand on your abdomen
moving in. After you can do diaphragmatic breathing well lying down, you can
learn to do it sitting or standing. Many, but not all, people with COPD find
this breathing method helpful. Diaphragmatic breathing should be practiced for
20 minutes, 2 to 3 times a day.
Pursed-lip breathing may help you breathe more air out so that your next breath can be deeper. In this type of breathing, you
breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth while almost closing your
lips. Breathe in for about 4 seconds and breathe out for 6 to 8 seconds.
Pursed-lip breathing decreases shortness of breath and improves your ability to
Breathing while bending forward at the waist may make it easier for you to breathe. Bending forward while breathing may decrease
shortness of breath in those with severe COPD, both at rest and during
exercise. This may be because bending forward allows the diaphragm to move more
Breathing training can be done as an individual therapy or as part of
a pulmonary rehabilitation program.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.