How Breathing Exercises Can Help Manage Asthma Ava Montini July 31, 2023

How Breathing Exercises Can Help Manage Asthma

Many of us don’t even have to think about breathing, but for those with asthma, simply inhaling and exhaling can be a daily struggle. As a result of narrowed airways, asthma patients cannot fully empty their lungs, causing a buildup of air that gives them a sense of shortness of breath. 

Although breathing exercises haven’t been shown to modify the disease or improve lung function, many patients try a combination of breathing exercises with standard medications to manage asthma symptoms better. 

Breathing Exercises

Recent research has resulted in the endorsement of breathing exercises as an add-on treatment for asthma in systematic reviews and guidelines. There is now a convincing body of evidence that breathing training for people with asthma effectively improves patient-reported endpoints, such as symptoms, health status and psychological well-being. 

Here are six asthma breathing exercises.

  1. Nasal Breathing

Studies show breathing through the nose has been associated with experiencing less severe asthma symptoms. The biological role of nasal breathing is to filter, warm and humidify inspired air, all potentially important factors in minimizing the impact of asthma.

  1. Pursed Lip Breathing

Pursed lip breathing is a technique that helps people living with asthma or COPD when they experience shortness of breath. Pursed lip breathing helps control shortness of breath and provides a quick and easy way to slow your breathing pace, making each breath more effective.

This technique helps keep airways open longer so that you can remove the air trapped in your lungs by slowing down your breathing rate and relieving shortness of breath.

  1. Diaphragmatic Breathing

In diaphragmatic breathing, you learn to breathe from the region around your diaphragm – a dome-shaped muscle below your lungs that helps you breathe – rather than from your chest. Compared to breathing more commonly, Diaphragmatic breathing, or “belly breathing,” which engages the diaphragm, intercostal, abdominal, and pelvic floor muscles. This technique helps to strengthen your diaphragm, slow your breathing, and decrease your body’s oxygen needs.

  1. Buteyko Breathing

Buteyko breathing is named after its creator, Konstantin Buteyko, a Ukrainian doctor who observed that unhealthy people have noticeable breathing during rest. Their breathing is often through the mouth, using the upper chest with a respiratory rate and volume more significant than average. Rapid breathing can increase symptoms like shortness of breath in people with asthma.

Studies show that the Buteyko method,  a series of exercises to teach you how to breathe slower and deeper, may improve asthma symptoms, although it does not seem to improve lung function.

  1. The Papworth Method

The Papworth technique encourages gentler, more relaxed breathing using the abdomen rather than the chest. It consists of a series of diaphragmatic breathing and relaxation exercises. In addition, it teaches patients which muscles to use when breathing and how to avoid breathing too deeply or too fast by emphasizing nose breathing. 

Research shows that the Papworth method improves the quality of life in patients diagnosed with asthma. 

  1. Yoga Breathing

Yoga is a form of exercise that incorporates the need to breathe steadily in a controlled fashion while moving, stretching and balancing. Along with being a stress reducer, Some studies have shown an improvement in asthma symptoms after yoga breathing techniques have been practised.