The official blog of the Lung Institute.

Emphysema Breathing Exercises

Emphysema Breathing Exercises

For people dealing with a chronic lung disease like emphysema, every breath doesn’t come easy. As the disease progresses over time, the amount of oxygen the lungs can absorb gets worse.

Luckily, it’s not all doom and gloom for emphysema sufferers as there are many ways to change one’s lifestyle to improve quality of life. Some of those ways include eating a lung-healthy diet, creating a lung-healthy home and performing emphysema breathing exercises. With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to offer some tips and information on emphysema breathing exercises.

What is Emphysema?

There are two types of chronic lung diseases, obstructive and restrictive. Emphysema is one of the most prevalent forms of obstructive lung disease. Emphysema is a lung disease which destroys the air sacs in the lung over time, making it difficult to breathe. As emphysema progresses, the inner walls of the air sacs form holes, weakening lung function and elasticity of the lungs’ walls. This limits the amount of oxygen entering the bloodstream.

Emphysema falls under the description of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). According to 2014 statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 3.4 million adults have been diagnosed with emphysema, a total of 1.4 percent of people in the United States.

Emphysema Breathing Exercises to Try

Emphysema Breathing Exercises

Before starting any emphysema breathing exercises or routines, consult your primary care physician or pulmonologist to see if you are able to do any of these exercises. Luckily, most of these exercises are not physically demanding and can be done at home.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragm breathing is a great and easy technique for people looking for emphysema breathing exercises. This will help strengthen the diaphragm muscle to help people use less energy when breathing. Below is a step-by-step list of instructions on how to perform Diaphragmatic Breathing:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent.
  • Keep one hand on the upper chest and the other resting on your abdomen.
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose and keep the one hand on your upper chest as still as possible.
  • Exhale slowly through the mouth while keeping the hand on your upper chest still.
  • Do this exercise between five and 10 minutes, up to three times a day.

The Huff-Cough Technique

Bouts of coughing are inevitable when dealing with a chronic lung disease. The Huff-Cough Technique is great for people looking to cough more effectively without getting fatigued; this is a great technique to try. Here’s how:

  • Sit in a chair – or upright – take several deep breaths similarly to diaphragmatic breathing.
  • Place one hand over your stomach and breathe normally.
  • Tighten up your stomach and chest muscles with your mouth open.
  • Force air out while whispering the word “huff.”

Pursed Lips Breathing

Pursed lips breathing is great for people looking to control their breath due to this exercise’s ability to help release trapped air from the lungs – a regular problem for those in later stages of emphysema. This technique also promotes relaxation and keeps the airways open for longer. Below are some step-by-step instructions:

  • Relax your neck and shoulders.
  • Inhale slowly through the nostrils for two seconds – with the mouth closed.
  • Exhale through the mouth for four seconds. When exhaling, pucker your lips like you’re giving a kiss.
  • Breathe out with a slow, steady pace.

Stop, Rest, Continue

When doing any physical or aerobic exercise, it’s important to keep an active pace without overdoing it. If you begin to feel short-of-breath during the exercise, that’s ok. Use these quick steps to get you back to a comfortable level:

  • Stop your activity.
  • Take a seat and relax the shoulders.
  • Breathe in through the nostrils for two seconds – with your mouth closed.
  • Exhale through your mouth for slowly for four seconds.
  • Repeat this process until breathing returns to normal levels.
  • Then continue with the physical exercise.

Emphysema Treatment Alternatives

Emphysema Breathing Exercises

Once emphysema breathing exercises are added to the daily routine and lung-healthy lifestyle, quality of life can improve. But for some people, more needs to be done. One alternative showing promise is stem cell therapy.

Here, at the Lung Institute, we use autologous stem cells from the patients’ own body, which may improve quality of life. If you or someone you know is battling COPD or other chronic lung disease such as pulmonary fibrosis or interstitial lung disease, it may be time to consider the Lung Institute. For more information on stem cell therapy, please contact us or call (800) 729-3065.


  1. Lung Institute

    2 months ago


    In order to determine if someone is a candidate for treatment, we need to gather more of their private medical history in a secure setting. The best way to do that is by giving us a call and speaking one-on-one with someone on our medical team over our secure phone line. We’re happy to answer your questions about stem cells, treatment options, candidacy and cost. So, feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


    The Lung Institute

  2. trent jenkins

    2 months ago

    how do i go about being treated by your medical team?

  3. Lung Institute

    4 months ago


    Thank you for your comment. Choosing stem cell treatment is a personal decision though consulting with your doctors is a good decision. The longer you wait, the more progressive the disease becomes. We would suggest asking your doctors why they would wait. You may consider talking with one of our patient coordinators and talking with them.

    We’re happy to answer your questions about stem cell therapy, so feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 to speak one-on-one with a patient coordinator. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


    The Lung Institute

  4. Warren Coleman

    4 months ago

    I would love to try your treaTment but neither Drs treating me
    For endstage COPD say they think aT this time it would be wise.
    Is there something to be done to change this attitude?

  5. Phoebe

    8 months ago

    Hi Maelene,

    Treatment cost varies depending on treatment type. In order for our medical team to determine if you are a candidate and which treatment option may work best for you, we need to gather more medical information over a secure line. To do this, we need to speak with you one-on-one over our secure phone line. There is no way for any medical facility to accurately estimate the approximate amount of time a procedure may add to someone’s life. However, our recent studies have shown that many people who have had treatment with us have reported an improvement in their quality of life. Our dedicated medical team has a wealth of knowledge about stem cells, treatment options, candidacy, cost and more. We’re happy to answer your questions, so feel free to give us a call at (855) 313-1149. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  6. Maelene Meckley

    8 months ago

    I have read all the info on your web site about the stem cell therphy. However i can not find the cost of this procedure nor can i find Approinately how much longer does this procedure add to life

  7. Matt

    12 months ago

    Hello Robin,
    Thank you for your post. If you are constantly feeling this way, please inform your doctor so they can modify your treatment plan. If you are interested in learning more about stem cell therapy, please give one of our staff members a call at (855) 313-1149. That way they can go over all your questions in greater detail. Thanks again and have a great day.

  8. Phoebe

    12 months ago

    Dear Judy,

    Thanks for your comment. We’re happy to answer your questions regarding stem cell treatment for emphysema and other chronic lung diseases. We have dedicated people available to answer your questions one-on-one, so feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  9. Judy Griffith

    12 months ago

    I would like to learn more

  10. Robin

    12 months ago

    I just quit smoking 2 months ago. This is the 2nd time out of 45 years. The first time was for 3 months, 20 years ago. I’m 55. The first time my lungs did what was expected to clear themselves with coughing. This time however I haven’t coughed at all and I find myself so short of breath and to top it off my legs and occasionally my arms feel like they’re not getting the oxygen they need, they hurt horribly, and they feel like they’re going to fall off. I was told by my doctor that I have COPD.

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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.

All claims made regarding the efficacy of Lung Institute's treatments as they pertain to pulmonary conditions are based solely on anecdotal support collected by Lung Institute. Individual conditions, treatment and outcomes may vary and are not necessarily indicative of future results. Testimonial participation is voluntary. Lung Institute does not pay for or script patient testimonials.

Under current FDA guidelines and regulations 1271.10 and 1271.15, the Lung Institute complies with all necessary requirements for operation. The Lung Institute is firmly in accordance with the conditions set by the FDA for exemption status and conducts itself in full accordance with current guidelines. Any individual who accesses Lung Institute's website for information is encouraged to speak with his or her primary physician for treatment suggestions and conclusive evidence. All information on this site should be used for educational and informational use only.

As required by Texas state law, the Lung Institute Dallas Clinic has received Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval from MaGil IRB, now Chesapeake IRB, which is fully accredited by the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Program (AAHRPP), for research protocols and stem cell procedures. The Lung Institute has implemented these IRB approved standards at all of its clinics nationwide. Approval indicates that we follow rigorous standards for ethics, quality, and protections for human research.