Did you know that pursed lip breathing improves oxygenation, reduces breathing rate and eases breathing?

What is Pursed Lip Breathing?

PLB (pursed lip breathing) is described in the American Thoracic Society guidelines as involving ‘a nasal inspiration followed by expiratory blowing against partially closed lips, avoiding forceful exhalation’. PLB reduces breathing rate, helps make exhalation more efficient, reduces dyspnoea (shortness of breath), and improves cellular oxygenation. PLB exercises are most often practised to treat asthma, COPD, anxiety, phobias, stress, arrhythmias and hypertension.

What does pursed lip breathing do?

Pursed lip breathing

  • Improves ventilation
  • Releases trapped air in the lungs
  • Keeps the airways open longer and decreases the work of breathing
  • Prolongs exhalation to slow the breathing rate
  • Improves breathing patterns by moving old air out of the lungs and allowing for new air to enter the lungs
  • Relieves shortness of breath
  • Causes general relaxation

(source: Cleveland clinic foundation)

Pursed lip breathing is one of the simplest ways to control shortness of breath. It provides a quick and easy way to slow your pace of breathing, making each breath more effective.


Exhalation through pursed lips is the most efficient way to ease breathing, reduce breathing rate and improve body oxygenation.

Did you know? In humans the main respiratory muscle is the diaphragm which with the contraction increases volume of the chest. Postural muscles (stomach, back, shoulder girdle) facilitate the effective functioning of the diaphragm. Auxiliary respiratory muscles (intercostal muscles, muscles of the shoulder girdle) are involved in intense efforts or to deal with stress. Exhalation however does not essentially require muscle effort as the air flows with the pressure gradient. It leads to inefficient shallow and rapid breathing. By exhaling through pursed lips the exhalation becomes slower, longer and more efficient, ie. more air is released out of body.

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