Breathing through pursed lips

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 pace of breathing, making each breath more effective.

When you feel short of breath, pursed lip breathing helps get more oxygen into your lungs and calms you down so you can better control your breath.

To practice pursed lip breathing, sit down in a chair and relax your neck and shoulder muscles.

Breathe in slowly through your nose, making sure to keep your mouth closed.

Some people find it helpful to count to themselves, “inhale, one, two.” Pucker, or “purse” your lips as if you were going to whistle or gently blow out a candle.

And then breathe out, or exhale, all of the air in your lungs through your mouth slowly and gently through pursed lips.

Try to breathe out longer than your inhale. Some people find it helpful to count to themselves, “exhale, one, two, three, four.”

Continue to repeat this exercise of slowly inhaling through the nose and exhaling through pursed lips until your breath becomes normal.

Pursed lip breathing works by moving oxygen into your lungs and carbon dioxide out of your lungs.

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

If you continue to be short of breath, call 911 and seek immediate medical attention.

For more breathing techniques and information on living with COPD, asthma and other lung diseases, visit the American Lung Association’s website at

Pursed Lip Breathing

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.

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

When should I use this technique?

Use this technique during the difficult part of any activity, such as bending, lifting or stair climbing.

Practice this technique 4-5 times a day at first so you can get the correct breathing pattern.

Pursed lip breathing technique

  • Relax your neck and shoulder muscles.
  • Breathe in (inhale) slowly through your nose for two counts, keeping your mouth closed. Don’t take a deep breath; a normal breath will do. It may help to count to yourself: inhale, one, two.
  • Pucker or “purse” your lips as if you were going to whistle or gently flicker the flame of a candle.
  • Breathe out (exhale) slowly and gently through your pursed lips while counting to four. It may help to count to yourself: exhale, one, two, three, four.


Pucker or Purse


With regular practice, this technique will seem natural to you.

Pursed lip breathing reminders

  • Do not force the air out.
  • Always breathe out for longer than you breathe in.
  • Breathe slowly, easily, and relaxed … in and out … until you are in complete control.

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Pulmonary Rehabilitation Programs to Consider

While diaphragmatic breathing may not work well, other techniques taught through a pulmonary rehabilitation program may be more effective, Criner says. Some pulmonary rehab programs use breathing devices, called inspiratory muscle trainers, that train patients to increase the pressure that breathing muscles have to generate per breath.

“You can’t really train the lungs, but you could train your respiratory muscles to be stronger or to have greater endurance,” Criner says. Training the respiratory muscles may make them stronger by about 20% to 25%, he says.

“It’s hard to show, though, if you make them stronger, that it relates to an improvement in your ability to do work. But you can make them stronger and that may be helpful in clearing secretions and coughing,” as well as giving the breathing muscles greater reserves from which to draw, he says.

It’s important to get good advice from a pulmonary rehab program about effective devices, Criner says. Lung trainers and other devices promoted on the Internet often don’t work.

“They’re like kazoos,” he says. “Rather than searching the Web and buying things out of pocket that may not be useful, go to a pulmonary rehab program. They can tell you about the best things and approaches. They’ll customize it to you to make you feel better and do more.”

Pulmonary rehab programs also teach patients exercises to strengthen their arms and legs, a therapy that Edelman says is valuable to COPD patients. Typically, patients do aerobic and isotonic exercises, the latter designed to strengthen muscles.

“Old-fashioned exercise training — the evidence for that is pretty good,” Edelman says. “You can make the muscles and the circulatory system more efficient so that it delivers oxygen to the exercising muscles better. And of course, that reduces the burden on the lungs because you need to deliver less oxygen to the blood.”



The main results of this study showed that DB favored greater respiratory volumes and times in both groups, contributing to the reduction in Br/M and increase in SpO2, compared with NB. PB was able to increase respiratory volumes in the healthy group, compared with NB, with no additional benefits in the respiratory pattern of the COPD group. With respect to thoracoabdominal coordination, as expected, both groups presented higher asynchrony during DB, compared with NB, with a greater increase in the healthy group. These results are important, since they may co-substantiate the potential beneficial effects of these respiratory breathing modalities in COPD patients in contrast with healthy subjects.

It is known that diaphragmatic dysfunction is an important deleterious consequence of the progression of the severity of COPD. With the increase in air flow resistance, air trapping, and hyperinflation in this disease, the inspiratory muscles are passively shortened and placed at a mechanical disadvantage10 , 11. Therefore, a progressive reduction occurs in the mobility of the diaphragm and in its relative contribution to thoracoabdominal movement12 – 14, and as a compensatory mechanism, there is greater recruitment of the respiratory muscles of the rib cage15 , 16. In this context, both the reduction in diaphragm mobility and the greater activity of the rib cage respiratory muscles are associated with the increase in dyspnea and intolerance to physical exercise17 – 19.

To reduce or minimize these alterations, studies have been conducted with DB as a form of therapy for improving diaphragmatic mobility and thereby reducing the deleterious effects of diaphragmatic dysfunction. According to the ATS20, DB is a respiratory strategy frequently taught as a component of self-treatment in COPD patients, with the goal of minimizing the respiratory demand of the disease and reducing its impact on daily life. In the study by Yamaguti et al.2, a DB training program in COPD patients promoted improvement in diaphragm mobility, with an increase in the participation of the diaphragm during natural respiration, resulting in an improvement in functional capacity, in addition to improvement in health-related quality of life. Other studies1 , 21 found an improvement in gas exchange in the respiratory patterns22 , 23 and in oxygen consumption24.

It has been suggested that the beneficial effects of DB depend on the COPD patients’ characteristics, such as severity of the disease, pulmonary hyperinflation, and adequate diaphragmatic movement, an essential condition for the success of the respiratory technique8. Moreover, a paradoxal abdominal respiratory pattern and worsening of dyspnea and fatigue during the technique are criteria for modifying or interrupting DB8. In this context, it is important to mention that the subjects of the present study adequately performed DB, which was monitored by the physical therapist, without any report of dyspnea. DB was beneficial to the COPD patients because it promoted a reduction in respiratory rate and increased the lung volumes, which is in agreement with the proposal of Cahalin et al.8.

DB is frequently applied in pulmonary rehabilitation programs, and its efficacy in improving pulmonary volumes and SpO2 and reducing Br/M has been documented18 , 25. In the present study, the beneficial effects of DB on respiratory volumes and times and oxygenation in both groups were also observed when compared with NB. An important issue to consider as regards DB is the thoracoabdominal coordination during the technique, which was shown to be increased26. Therefore, the benefits of the technique could be questioned, particularly in COPD patients, who already present higher asynchrony in comparison with healthy subjects.

To clarify this issue, the thoracoabdominal measures were evaluated during the technique, comparing the COPD patients’ results with those of healthy-matched subjects. A similar response was found in both groups, with an increase in asynchrony values in comparison with those of NB. Moreover, the healthy subjects presented a higher increase in all asynchrony measures. As expected of a respiratory technique that emphasizes greater use of the diaphragm and abdominal breathing components thus generating “asynchrony” during the respiratory cycle, both groups presented a similar respiratory pattern behavior. In this study, asynchrony between the thoracic and abdominal compartments was evaluated by PhAng23, and when the rib cage and abdomen move in perfect synchrony, the PhAng is 0º. However, with the increase in thoracoabdominal asynchrony, this value is close to 180º. In this context, although DB increased the PhAng, it maintained mean values of 70° and did not attain maximum asynchrony values. For this reason, the changes in the measurements related to synchronism cannot be interpreted as an increase in asynchronism, since the increase in mean values remained below 70°.

The increase in thoracoabdominal asynchrony during DB is possibly related to the greater use of the diaphragm. This has also been reported in healthy subjects25 and other respiratory exercises26 as mentioned above. It is important to emphasize that DB was performed with inward abdominal movement during expiration. This action can improve the next inspiration since it provides a better mechanical positioning of the diaphragm.

In the present study, although the subjective perceived exertion scale was not used, the SpO2 was elevated and none of the patients reported dyspnea when breathing correctly and during the proposed time.

The PB technique differs to a great extent from that of DB. To perform the exercises of the Pilates® method, it is necessary to breathe deeply, maintaining the abdomen contracted by active contraction of the local and overall stabilizing muscles of the lumbar spine, in addition to the diaphragm muscle and the pelvic floor muscles9. According to Barr et al.27, the diaphragm muscle works as the roof of a cylinder of muscles that surround the spine and assist with stability. It is one of the main contributors towards maintaining intra-abdominal pressure and preventing displacement of the viscera by contraction, mainly of the TrA muscle.

The specific respiration of the Pilates method is known as lateral breathing, which avoids expansion of the abdomen with the aim of using the thoracic and ribcage muscles to generate lateral expansion of the ribcage, increasing the space for the lungs to expand and avoiding the movement of the abdomen so as not to leave the lumbar region unprotected9 , 28. Thus, it is clear that the objectives of the breathing techniques differ and that the diaphragm muscle in PB also acts as a stabilizer of the lumbar spine. Therefore, as respiration is a little restricted because no movement occurs in the abdominal compartment, the results of this study showed that in the COPD group there were no changes, for example, in the pulmonary volumes, unlike DB, in which there is a diaphragmatic excursion with abdominal projection. This more restricted respiratory movement in PB did not promote alteration in any respiratory patterns evaluated in the individuals with COPD in the present study. In the healthy group, however, PB promoted alterations such as an increase in lung volumes, %RCi, and SpO2. %RCi has been described as a measure that represents the percent contribution of the rib cage excursions to the tidal volume. Thus, because the movement of the rib cage is greater in the healthy subjects, this was probably detected only in the healthy group. This fact may also explain the alterations in other measures, for example, lung volume and synchronism, due to the fact that the ribcage of the healthy group showed no rigidity and thus the movements were greater.

It should be pointed out that PB specifically promoted a breathing pattern with greater thoracic expansibility. In individuals with COPD, this respiratory pattern may have been influenced by the disease because there is the presence of thoracic rigidity and diminished expansibility, which may also explain the absence of increases in pulmonary volumes, respiratory times, and even in thoracoabdominal asynchrony. However, the active contraction of the TrA muscle can bring long-term benefits, since it provides stabilization of the abdominal compartment and supports the descent of the diaphragm.

With regard to SpO2, the results of the present study showed that there was an increase during PB in both groups, which may be due to the use of pursed-lip breathing. According to some authors29, this type of breathing is associated with a partial increase in oxygen pressure in the arterial blood and SpO2.

With regard to the limitations of this study, one is that the SpO2 measurements were made using a system that did not store memory as in the plethysmography measurements. Other limitations were the absence of a COPD control group and the sample size.

In view of the foregoing discussion, DB showed positive effects such as an increase in lung volumes, respiratory motion, SpO2, and reduction in respiratory rate. Although there were no changes in the volume and time measurements during PB in COPD, this breathing pattern increased volumes in the healthy subjects and increased oxygenation in both groups. In this context, the acute benefits of DB are emphasized as a supporting treatment in respiratory rehabilitation programs. Future studies should focus on the effects of both respiratory patterns in other outcomes in order to confirm the positive or negative effects of these interventions.

Breathing Techniques for COPD Patients

Pursed-Lip Breathing for COPD Pursed-lip breathing is basically breathing in through the nose and out through pursed lips. This technique is particularly useful when your shortness of breath flares up. It’s also helpful when you work out: In a recent study, people who used pursed-lip breathing during had more endurance, a more controlled breathing rate, more oxygen in their blood, and less lung hyperinflation during exerise. These findings were published in Arpil 2014 in the European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine.

When you have COPD, irritated airways and lungs that have lost elasticity work less efficiently when you exhale, leaving air trapped in your lungs. This trapped air is what leads to shortness of breath. When you exhale with your lips pursed, there is increased resistance in your airways, which helps them stay open during exhalation. Pursed-lip breathing also helps calm you down and slows your breathing.

Practice this technique by inhaling through your nose, making sure to keep your mouth closed. Then purse your lips and exhale softly for at least twice the amount of time that your inhaled. Doing this forces you to use the correct breathing muscles and ensures you exhale as much air as possible so that it does not get trapped in your lungs. With less air trapped in your lungs, more oxygen will be able to get into your bloodstream.

Diaphragmatic Breathing for COPD Diaphragmatic breathing is a breathing exercise that helps to strengthen your diaphragm, which is the most important muscle used in breathing. Your diaphragm, located under your lungs, helps you expel air from your lungs when you exhale. When air gets trapped in the airways in COPD patients, the diaphragm has difficulty functioning properly and eventually becomes less useful.

The first step in learning diaphragmatic breathing is to become more aware of the muscles you are using when you breathe so that you can use your diaphragm more. “Sometimes we will start COPD patients lying down on their back so they’ll feel their diaphragm moving,” says Dibbern.

You can practice diaphragmatic breathing by lying on your back and placing one hand on the upper portion of your chest and the other on your belly. While you inhale through your nose, expand and push out your stomach muscles so that your chest does not move out. When you exhale, do so through pursed lips and contract your stomach muscles. After you have been practicing this technique regularly, you will automatically begin to use your diaphragm more. The goal is to use diaphragmatic breathing continuously. If you practice diaphragmatic breathing regularly, your diaphragm will begin to function better and your breathing will improve.

Practice makes perfect: The more you do these breathing techniques, the more natural they will begin to feel and the easier your breathing will become.

American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine

The effects of diaphragmatic breathing learning on chest wall motion, mechanical efficiency of the respiratory muscles, breathing pattern, and dyspnea sensation were studied in seven patients with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (FEV1 34 +/- 7% of the predicted value) during loaded and unloaded breathing. Chest wall motion was studied focusing on amplitude and phase relation of rib cage and abdominal motion. Mechanical efficiency was defined as the ratio of added external power output and added oxygen consumption during inspiratory threshold loading (40% maximal inspiratory pressure ). After 2 wk run-in, all subjects participated in a diaphragmatic breathing program for 3 wk. Variables obtained during diaphragmatic breathing were compared with those obtained during natural breathing. During diaphragmatic breathing the ratio of rib cage to abdominal motion decreased significantly during unloaded (0.86 versus 0.37; p < 0.01) as well as during loaded breathing (0.97 versus 0.50; p < 0.01). Chest wall motion became more asynchronous during diaphragmatic breathing in the unloaded conditions (mean phase difference for natural breathing 3.5 versus 10.4% for diaphragmatic breathing; p < 0.02) and loaded conditions (mean phase difference for natural breathing 6 versus 11.4% for diaphragmatic breathing; p < 0.02). Surprisingly, mechanical efficiency decreased significantly during diaphragmatic breathing (2.57 +/- 0.76%) in comparison with natural breathing (3.35 +/- 1.48%; p < 0.01). Tidal volume, respiratory frequency, and duty cycle did not change significantly during diaphragmatic breathing. Dyspnea sensation tended to increase during diaphragmatic breathing.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Pursed Lips Breathing: How to Do It and Why It Helps

13 Feb 2017 | Under Lifestyle, Lung Disease, Medical | Posted by |

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When times get hard, remember to stop, and just breathe.

Living with a chronic lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis (PF) and emphysema can often mean a daily struggle to breathe. As the symptoms of these conditions are most notably a shortness of breath, day-to-day life with these diseases can dramatically affect the quality of life of those who live with them. In these cases, difficulty breathing can mean physical and mental impediments to one’s daily routine. Although these struggles are common for those with lung disease, and there are natural and alternative treatments to address them, their effects on the mind and body are no-less taxing. In these difficult moments, the most important advice is often forgotten: to simply stop and breathe.

With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to offer you relief using a simple technique to calm your nerves and destress: Pursed Lips Breathing: How to Do It and Why It Helps.

Pursed Lips Breathing: What Is It?

Pursed lips breathing is a breathing technique used to address breathlessness in those who have trouble breathing (typically associated with chronic lung disease). As one of the easiest methods to control breathing, this technique is most effective when breathing is labored or under stress (for example, when engaging in exercise or other strenuous activity). Although the method of using this technique is simple, it should be practiced 4-5 times a day until it becomes second nature.

Pursed Lips Breathing Exercise: Step-By-Step

  • Relax your neck and shoulders.
  • Inhale slowly through the nostrils for two seconds (keep your mouth closed), a deep breath is unnecessary a normal breath will do just fine.
  • Exhale through the mouth for four seconds (the extended time is the key). When exhaling, pucker your mouth as if giving a kiss.
  • While breathing out, keep a slow and steady breath; don’t breathe out hard.

For those with emphysema, the Pursed Lips Breathing method is particularly useful, keeping pressure within the airways and keeping the large airways from collapsing. This also has the added benefit of opening up the airways enough to release more air, decreasing the amount of gas that is trapped in your chest.

Benefits of Pursed Lips Breathing

The Pursed Lips Breathing method offers significant mental and physical benefits. For example, it can help in the following ways:

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

Alternative Breathing Exercises and Treatments

Aside from the Pursed Lips Breathing method, the diaphragm breathing method or belly breathing method shows efficacy in restoring easier breathing in people with lung disease. This method is designed to use the diaphragm (where you’re supposed to breathe from) to bolster oxygen inhalation. Contrary to popular belief, proper inhalation actually inflates the belly not the chest. The diaphragm is the body’s breathing muscle and is inherently supposed to do most of the work. When not using the diaphragm, the muscles in the neck, shoulders and back are used, and unfortunately, your muscles don’t do much to move the air within your body.

In doing the Diaphragm Breathing Method, follow these steps:

  • Relax your shoulders
  • Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly
  • Inhale through your nose for about two seconds
  • As you breathe in, your belly should move outward. Your belly should move more than your chest.
  • As you exhale slowly through pursed-lips, gently press on your belly. This will push up on your diaphragm to help get the air out.
  • Repeat

Other methods for treating occasional breathlessness include splashing cold water on your face or hitting yourself with a cool gust of air; these methods stimulate the body’s natural responses to decrease the sensation of breathlessness.

Moving Forward

The Pursed Lips Breathing Method can be a great asset when trying to quickly calm your nerves and relieve short-term breathlessness. As a core condition of chronic lung disease, frequent shortness of breath can have a devastating effect on your quality of life. However, by changing your diet and consistently exercising, and quitting smoking, it’s possible to greatly affect the pronouncement of symptoms within those with COPD, pulmonary fibrosis, and emphysema. When lifestyle changes fail to improve your quality of life in the way that you may expect, it may be time to consider cellular therapy. Rather than simply addressing the symptoms of lung disease, cellular therapy may affect disease progression and may improve quality of life..

As in the case of Don C., cellular therapy may mean the difference between struggling to get out of bed to getting through his day-to-day activities without oxygen.

If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic lung disease like COPD, PF, ILD, the Lung Institute may be able to help with a variety of adult cellular therapy options. Contact us today at 888-745-6697 to see if you qualify for cellular therapy, and find out what cellular therapy could mean for you.

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The Benefits of Pursed Lip Breathing

Pursed lip breathing is something that can help to make your breathing much more effective in total. Many people breathe improperly primarily due to a lack of attention to detail to breathing. This is a technique that is specially designed to help ensure that you are breathing much more effectively and efficiently by making each breath intentional and slower. It is a sort of way to ‘hack’ your breathing to allow for proper breaths each and every time. You do it by inhaling with puckered lips and exhaling through your lips slowly. This alone is going to allow for better efficiently and effectively breathing because it will force you to focus on your breathing and it can help you better control it. In this article, we will be going over some of the ways that this breathing practice works, what it might be used for, and some of the benefits of it.

What Is It For?

Pursed lip breathing is something that can be beneficial for a variety of people. For one, it is especially good at helping improve overall lunch mechanics and helping one learn how to breathe properly. Along with this, it is good for those that might have respiratory issues that make it difficult to breathe at all. This can include all kinds of people including those that might suffer from various lung conditions. Those that have progressive respiratory diseases like COPD are most likely to benefit from this type of slow and deliberate breathing practice because these diseases can severely limit lung function and make it very difficult to breathe in general.1

Some Benefits Of Pursed Lip Breathing:

1. Control

One of the main reasons you are likely going to want to at least consider implementing this type of breathing method in your routine is due to the fact that it can aid in allowing you much more control over your breathing as a whole. Because it offers you the ability to control the amount you inhale and exhale and because the entire method is so deliberate, you are going to be able to alter your breathes as needed. You will be slowing the breathing pace which can offer you much greater control in general.

2. Keeps Your Airways Open Longer

Another benefit that can stem from implementing this type of breathing style would be the ability to sustain open airways for longer periods of time. Being able to keep your airways open for increased periods of time is easily one of the best benefits that can come from this breathing method because it makes it one of the ideal breathing practices that you will be able to integrate into your routine which can help those that have moderate to severe respiratory issues to begin with. Because it can help you keep your breathing airways open for much longer periods of time, it is a great way to help decrease the total amount of work that is required to go into your breathing efforts.

3. Get Rid Of Excess CO₂

Another good thing that you will be able to benefit from when you implement this type of breathing technique would be the ability to get rid of excess CO2 that might be taking up valuable space in your lungs. Because it can help you get rid of old carbon dioxide that might be trapped in your lungs, it is going to open your lungs up to take in much more oxygen.

4. Decreased Stress

Another benefit that can stem from pursed lip breathing would be its positive impact that it can have on your stress levels. Because you will be taking much slower and much more deliberate breathes, it is going to help keep your mind from wandering and it can keep you from worrying about things that might be causing you stress in your life. Along with this, it is going to effectively help you calm down your nervous system which can keep you from experiencing heightened anxiety and other things that can lead to increased stress responses.2 Along with this, it can help those that suffer from COPD have much more exercise tolerance which allows for much more effective exercise to further decrease excess stress levels.3

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Pursed lip breathing is a breathing technique that can effectively reduce the respiratory rate and improve overall oxygen saturation. However, it comes with a lot of other benefits that make it a very effective breathing technique to consider even if you are not necessarily suffering from a specific respiratory condition that would directly benefit from it. In combination with aromatherapy like MONQ’s Sleepy MONQ R, a refillable portable diffuser, your breathing will make you feel better and healthier.

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Pursed Lip Breathing for COPD: Technique and Benefits

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One of the hallmarks of COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is narrowed airways. When your airways are restricted or obstructed, your body must work harder to get the oxygen it needs. That’s why you get short of breath sometimes. When you walk upstairs, for instance, your body needs more oxygen than usual to supply your muscles. You breathe faster in an effort to meet this increased demand.

Shortness of breath can be scary and distressing. Pursed lip breathing is a simple breathing technique you can use to slow your breathing, improve airflow, and calm your anxiety.

How to Do Pursed Lip Breathing

Anyone can learn to do pursed lip breathing. Here’s the basic technique:

  1. Relax.

  2. Inhale slowly through your nose for two counts.

  3. Purse your lips–as if you were going to whistle–and exhale slowly through your mouth. Your exhale should take about twice as long as your inhale. So, if you breathe in for two counts, try counting to four while you exhale.

  4. Repeat as necessary, until you feel less short of breath.

It will probably take you a few tries to feel comfortable with pursed lip breathing. It’s a good idea to practice this technique 4 or 5 times a day, when you’re not stressed, rushed or short of breath, so you become familiar with the process. You might practice pursed lip breathing during commercial breaks while watching TV, or before or after meals.

When to Use Pursed Lip Breathing

Pursed lip breathing is a simple, convenient technique that doesn’t require any specialized equipment; you can do pursed lip breathing anywhere, under almost any conditions.

Whenever you feel short of breath, switch to pursed lip breathing. Within a few minutes, your breathing will settle down. When it does, you can transition back to your regular breathing pattern.

As you become more familiar with pursed lip breathing, you may want to switch to pursed lip breathing whenever you do an activity that commonly triggers shortness of breath. If climbing the stairs normally leaves you breathless, try breathing through pursed lips as you climb.

Benefits of Pursed Lip Breathing

Pursed lip breathing improves airflow in the lungs. It helps the airways stay open a bit longer and decreases the work of breathing. Pursed lip breathing can also increase activity tolerance, making it easier for you to do the things you love to do.

Research has found that this technique decreases shortness of breath and improves physical functioning over time. Other studies have shown that pursed lip breathing can increase exercise tolerance. One study separated 32 COPD patients into two groups: One group was allowed to use pursed lip breathing while walking; the other group was not. Patients who used pursed lip breathing during exertion walked an average of 37 seconds longer than patients who could not use pursed lip breathing. The blood oxygen levels of patients who used pursed lip breathing remained higher than the oxygen levels of the other group too.

Pursed lip breathing is a simple technique you can use as needed to decrease shortness of breath and improve physical function. Talk to your doctor about any worsening symptoms and how pursed lip breathing can help you manage your COPD.

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