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Best Breathing Exercises for COPD

11 Apr 2017
| Under Breathing Exercises, COPD, Lifestyle | Posted by | 21 Comments
Best Breathing Exercises for COPD

People living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) often have trouble breathing every day. Many people describe the shortness of breath associated with COPD as air hunger. When you feel breathless, you avoid the activities that make you feel breathless. As you avoid activities, you do less, and your muscles weaken and breathlessness often worsens. As shortness of breath worsens, many people feel depressed and don’t do their favorite activities. It is a hard cycle to break, but with these best breathing exercises for COPD, you can take the first step to breathing easier.

How Are Breathing Exercises for COPD Helpful?

It’s normal for people to feel tense when it’s hard to breathe. Learning and practicing certain breathing exercises can be helpful for people trying to manage their symptoms. Breathing exercises for COPD may help you stay more relaxed when you feel sudden COPD symptoms.

What are the Best Breathing Exercises for COPD?

While there are many different types of breathing exercises, below are a few that may be useful for people with COPD and other chronic lung diseases. Keep in mind, it’s important to talk with your doctor about breathing exercises before trying them or adding them to your routine.

Pursed Lips Breathing

The pursed lips breathing exercise can be used to address shortness of breath by reducing how hard someone must work to breathe. It promotes relaxation. In addition, pursed lips breathing helps people learn how to control their breathing and can aid in the release of air trapped within the lungs. Pursed lips breathing can be especially useful during strenuous activities. Here’s how to do the pursed lips breathing exercise for COPD:

  • Relax your neck and shoulders.
  • Breathe in slowly through your nostrils while you count to two (keeping your mouth closed).
  • Pucker your lips as if you’re giving a kiss.
  • Breathe out slowly and steadily through your mouth while you count to four.

You don’t have to take a deep breath to do pursed lips breathing. The key is to focus on breathing in and out slowly while you count. Pursed lips breathing can be practiced four to five times daily.

Coordinated Breathing

Episodes of shortness of breath can cause anxiety and make you hold your breath. The coordinated breathing exercise helps to prevent you from holding your breath. Coordinated breathing can help during exercise or when you feel anxious. Here’s how to practice coordinated breathing:

  • Inhale through your nose. (If you’re exercising, inhale through your nose before starting an exercise).
  • Purse your lips.
  • Exhale through pursed lips during the most challenging part of the exercise.
  • Repeat as needed.

Deep Breathing

When air becomes trapped in the lungs, you may feel increased shortness of breath. While it may seem strange, deep breathing exercises for COPD can help prevent air from getting trapped in your lungs. Deep breathing helps you breathe in more fresh air. Here are the steps to do deep breathing:

  • With your elbows back slightly, sit or stand in a comfortable position.
  • Take a deep breath in.
  • Hold your breath as you count to five.
  • Exhale slowly until you feel that you have released as much air as possible.

Deep breathing can be performed along with other breathing exercises for COPD and up to three to four times a day.

Belly Breathing or Diaphragmatic Breathing

Of the muscles used for normal breathing, the diaphragm is one of the most important. Often, people with COPD use accessory muscles in their neck, shoulders and back to breathe more than they use their diaphragm. Belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing helps people with COPD retrain the diaphragm to work better, so they can breathe more efficiently. Here’s how to perform belly breathing:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent or resting on a pillow.
  • Place one hand on your upper chest and the other hand on your belly.
  • Inhale slowly through your nose.
  • As you inhale, focus on feeling the hand on your belly rise and the hand on your chest remaining as still as possible.
  • Exhale slowly through your mouth like you would in pursed lips breathing.
  • As you exhale, focus on feeling the hand on your belly go down first.
  • Repeat as you are able.

Ask your doctor or respiratory therapist to show you how to best perform this exercise and how often you should practice it.

Huff Cough Technique

Mucus build-up is a common problem for people with COPD. Coughing is the body’s normal response to clearing the airways. However, the constant coughing associated with COPD often makes people very tired. The huff-cough technique can help people cough up mucus more effectively without making you feel so tired. Here’s what you do:

  • Sit in a comfortable position.
  • Inhale a little deeper than you would for a normal breath.
  • Use your stomach muscles to blow out the air in three even breaths while you make the sounds, “ha, ha, ha” as if you are blowing onto a mirror to make it steam.

Stop. Reset. Continue.

If you are doing physical activity or exercising and start to feel short-of-breath, it’s important to take a few minutes to regroup. Shortness of breath can cause anxiety. The first step is to stay calm. The key is to stop, reset, continue. Next, give these simple steps a try:

  • Stop the activity.
  • Sit down.
  • Relax your shoulders.
  • Breathe in slowly through your nostrils for two seconds while keeping your mouth closed.
  • Exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of four seconds.
  • Repeat these steps until your breathing goes back to normal.

Once you feel better, you may go back to your activities. However, if you don’t feel better, have increased shortness of breath or have chest pain, call 911.

COPD Breathing Exercises and Your Continued Health

Best Breathing Exercises for COPD

For many people with COPD, practicing these COPD breathing exercises under the care and supervision of their doctor helps them feel better. These COPD breathing exercises give people a way to manage their lung health, so they can stay as active and mobile as possible. Some people also use various standing and sitting positions to reduce shortness of breath. Remember to use your COPD medications exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Report any changes in your lung health or overall health to your physician immediately.

You and your doctor will continue to work together to develop the best COPD treatment plan. Treatment plans may include medications, exercise, breathing exercises, oxygen therapy, stem cell therapy, pulmonary rehab and more. If you or a loved one has COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis or another chronic lung disease and wants to learn more about stem cell treatment options, contact us at (800) 729-3065.


  1. Lung Institute

    1 day ago


    Thank you for your comment and question. Our treatments are done in an outpatient setting and are very similar to a blood draw. There is no intubation. Using the natural maintenance capabilities of stem cells, we first withdraw and separate the patient’s stem cells from their blood or bone marrow. We then reintroduce the stem cells into the body where they come to rest inside the lungs, promoting both natural healing and inflammation reduction.

    We’re happy to answer your questions about stem cell therapy for chronic lung diseases. We have a dedicated medical team who have a wealth of knowledge about stem cells, treatment options, candidacy, cost and more. So, feel free to give us a call at (855) 313-1149. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


    The Lung Institute

  2. Julie milliken

    2 days ago

    Do these blood (venous draws) or bone marrow extractions require a paTient to be intubated for the procedure. I am stage four copd and nobody will intubate me unless i am in a life threatening situation. Please expLain your procedure to me aNd these folks so we do not raise our hopes For naUght. Thank you.

  3. Lung Institute

    3 weeks ago


    Thank you for your comment. We offer two types of stem cell treatment. The first is the bone marrow treatment and the second is a blood or venous treatment. The venous treatment is much like a blood draw, It is minimally invasive.The stem cells from the blood or bone marrow are the best stem cells to use.

    In the meantime, you can learn more about stem cell treatment options and have your questions answered by one of our patient coordinators. Feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 for more information. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


    The Lung Institute

  4. Aida Schulte

    3 weeks ago

    I was wOndering if bone marrow is the only way you get the stem cells. I heard that you can obtain Them from body fat, which to me feel better and safer. One reason it is hard to get it done plus the traveling , testing etc…,etc…,etc… We also are retired and living off our social security income. It would be nice if you provided monthly payments??? Thank you

  5. Lung Institute

    3 months ago


    Thank you for the comments on our blog article and for explaining why it is important to have proper breathing technique.

    For anyone interested, here is a link to our breathing exercises blog section.

    Anyone interested in learning more about stem cell treatments and have questions answered by one of our qualified patient coordinators should feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 for more information. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


    The Lung Institute

  6. carol pedigree

    3 months ago

    Thank you for this blog and your site. I am a diaphragmatic breath teacher. Belly breathing is vital as the pericardium which is a line of fluid around the heart attaches to the diaphragm. Thus, when one inhales and the belly rises, the heart is being massaged and on the exhale, the belly falls, thus bringing the heart back to its place. The nervous system is directly involved with breathing as well. If we are not belly breathing our nervous system is at risk as well as our heart and blood pressure.

  7. Lung Institute

    3 months ago

    Bridgette: Thank you for the message.

    What a great idea and a great way to raise money.

    If you have any questions, please give us a call at (888) 510-9371. That way one of our patient coordinators can go over all your options. Thanks again and have a great day.


    The Lung Institute

  8. Lung Institute

    3 months ago


    Thank you for your message.

    If you are ever in need of stem cell therapy for a lung disease, please contact us. Our dedicated medical team has a wealth of knowledge about stem cells, treatment options, candidacy and more. So, feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 to speak one-on-one with someone from our medical team over our secure phone line. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


    The Lung Institute

  9. Lung Institute

    3 months ago


    Thank you for your message. We’re happy to answer your questions about stem cell treatment for chronic lung diseases, so feel free to contact us at (888) 510-9371 to speak with our knowledgeable medical team. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


    The Lung Institute

  10. ostling stephen

    3 months ago

    Stem cell may be worth a try
    Im 77 Copd one lower heart valve
    LeAks a little butjust out of breath!

    On 40 mg Steroids daily, was on 100
    Few days ago…..no pain! Exercising

  11. Robert

    3 months ago

    this is Very Good Information – THANK YOU and PLEASE KEEP ME ON YOUR EMAIL LIST

  12. Bridgette Bugni

    4 months ago

    My daughter set up a go fund me 2 times for 2 treatments. It’s a great way to raise the money.

  13. Lung Institute

    4 months ago


    Thank you for the message. We have Lung Institute clinics around the United States. The closest one to you would be Scottsdale, Arizona.

    Our team has a wealth of knowledge about stem cells, treatment, candidacy and cost. We’re happy to answer your questions. Feel free to give us a call at (855) 313-1149 to speak one-on-one with our dedicated medical team. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Kind regards,

    The Lung Institute

  14. Rodlfo Alegre

    4 months ago

    It’s not a comment. I’m just inquiring where a doctor/hospital in the State of California that performs stem cell therapy? i’m glad to receive your response for an appointment with my copd. thanks a lot.

  15. Richard Aronson

    4 months ago


    First off, we do recommend that you consult your doctor before embarking on any exercise routine that could cause fatigue and tiredness. Do not try and do too much to start. It is suggested that you only do two to three repetitions and do them four to five times per day. If you are feeling shortness of breath while doing any of these breathing exercises, we recommend that you quit and rest.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  16. Phoebe

    7 months ago

    Hello Eileen,

    Age and stage of the condition do not disqualify a person from having stem cell therapy. People at any age and at any stage of COPD may be able to have stem cell treatment. Treatment cost varies depending on treatment type. Our treatments are minimally invasive and outpatient, and they happen over the course of two days. Some people decide to have additional treatments after their initial stem cell treatment. We are happy to answer your questions, so feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 to speak one-on-one with our medical staff. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  17. Eileen Matherly

    7 months ago

    I understand that the stem cell theapy costs money, but what about the earLy exams costs and all the tests leading up to the actual process. They could cost thousands more. And i am also wondering about the age qualificatioNs. And aldo how many times does the process take, and is it the same amount for each treatment. I am 76, on social secuRity,! And my month ly payment is a pittance. I have copd, but have no complications…just shortness of breath. Everything else works fine.

  18. Phoebe

    8 months ago

    Hello Catrina,

    Thanks for your comment. We’re happy to answer your questions about stem cell therapy for COPD. Our knowledgeable medical team has a wealth of information about stem cells, treatment options, candidacy and more. So, feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149, and we look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  19. Catrina Harrow

    8 months ago

    My mom has copd im trying to find out about STEM CELL PLEASE CONTACT ME

  20. Phoebe

    8 months ago

    Dear David,

    Thanks for your comment. We’re glad you found our article helpful. We wish you the best.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  21. David Berry

    8 months ago

    thanks for the info

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* All treatments performed at Lung Institute utilize autologous stem cells, meaning those derived from a patient's own body. No fetal or embryonic stem cells are utilized in Lung Institute's procedures. Lung Institute aims to improve patients' quality of life and help them breathe easier through the use of autologous stem cell therapy. To learn more about how stem cells work for lung disease, click here.

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