The body requires the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, which is made possible by the lungs.
According to The South African Thoracic Society (SATS), a professional society dedicated to the promotion of lung health in South Africa and Africa through education, training, research and advocacy, the lungs may function less effectively due to factors like ageing, smoking, pollution, and other issues.
Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are two conditions that can limit lung function.
It's possible that a person can't alter how much oxygen their lungs can store. Nevertheless, breathing exercises can aid in reducing breathlessness brought on by poor lung function.
Pursed lip respiration
Pursed lip respiration or pursed lip breathing can assist in keeping the airways open for longer, enabling the movement of air into and out of the lungs, according to Medical News Today.
This is how to employ the pursed lip breathing technique, according to Dr Bilal Abdool-Gafoor, a pulmonologist and physician with over 15 years of experience in the medical field: Sit up straight since good posture can help increase lung movement. Breathe in slowly and deliberately through your nose.
When making a "kissing" expression, purse your lips so that they are almost touching. Next, exhale through your pursed lips. A good exhale should last twice as long as when you are inhaling.
"Some people find it extremely helpful to concentrate on the passing of time, for instance, by inhaling for 5 seconds and exhaling for 10 seconds. A clock that displays the seconds should be kept close by, advises Dr Abdool-Gafoor.
The UCT Lung Institute's investigations on this exercise have shown that it improves how quickly the lungs expand and contract.
The diaphragm muscle, which enables deep breathing, is strengthened specifically through belly breathing.
Dr Abdool-Gafoor says the exercise requires you to place a hand or other lightweight object on your stomach while performing it. Slowly inhale through your nose, paying attention to how high your stomach rises.
Exhale via your mouth, then inhale through your nose while attempting to raise your stomach higher than it did with your last breath.
Exhale after that, aiming to prolong each breath by two to three times its length. Check that the exercise is not causing stress in the upper body periodically by rolling the shoulders forward and backwards and swivelling the head.
Practice pursed lip breathing and belly breathing for 5 to 10 minutes each day, advises Dr Abdool-Gafoor, to improve lung function.
According to Healthline research, interval training may be a better option than continuous exercise if you experience dyspnea or shortness of breath when exercising.
‘’Interval training involves switching between brief bursts of harder and easier exercise. Dr Abdool-Gafoor offers this as an example: ‘’A person could try walking at a very fast pace for 1 minute, then walking more slowly for 2 minutes, in a cycle.’’
Similar to this, a person may do bicep curls or lunges for one minute, followed by two to three minutes of easy walking. The lungs can rest after an interval workout before being put to the test again.
"It is wise to take a little break if a workout makes you feel out of breath. Dr Abdool-Gafoor recommends practising pursed lip breathing until the shortness of breath passes.