Breathing exercises to help increase lung capacity

Breathing exercises to help increase lung capacity

Let’s talk about lung capacity. There are a variety of respiratory conditions that can diminish the amount of air our lungs can hold. It is also normal for lung capacity to decline gradually as we age.

Decreased lung capacity can be a nuisance, causing shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. But fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to help maintain and even improve lung capacity! Here are four breathing exercises to help increase the capacity of your lungs:

Deep Breathing

The simplest of all breathing exercises is deep breathing. The methodology involves:

  • Getting into position: Sit upright or stand, whatever is most comfortable for you. Shift your elbows slightly back to allow your chest to expand more fully.

  • Taking a deep breath of air: Breathe in through your nose.

  • Taking a brief pause: Hold your breath as you count to five.

  • Breathing out: Exhale slowly until you feel all the air is released.

Repeating this cycle a few times each day can have long-lasting health benefits.

Pursed Lip Breathing

This technique helps keep the airways open for a longer time so that you don’t have to work as hard to breathe well. It can also improve ventilation by moving old air trapped in the lungs out and making room for fresh air.

Performing this exercise involves:

  • Inhaling slowly through your nose with your mouth closed for two to five seconds

  • Exhaling slowly through your mouth with pursed lips for a slightly longer duration

The idea behind pursing your lips is to strengthen the pulmonary muscles, as the narrower air passage demands a lot more strength to inhale and exhale.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

This unique exercise, often known as Belly Breathing, is all about slowing your breathing and engaging your diaphragm. This makes breathing more efficient and can have added benefits such as lowering heart rate and blood pressure and improving stability in your core muscles.

This exercise includes:

  • Sitting or lying down: Relax and get comfortable!

  • Placing one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest: You should feel your belly rise, not your chest.

  • Inhaling slowly through your nose, with your mouth closed

  • Exhaling slowly through your mouth with pursed lips

  • Continuing this exercise for a few minutes

It’s essential to relax the neck and shoulder muscles during this exercise, so the diaphragm has the strength to manage the airflows.


This exercise, often called Lion’s Breath, is considered more intensive than the other breathing techniques. To perform this exercise, you should:

  • Kneel on a flat surface with crossed ankles

  • Hold your mouth open with your tongue sticking out (like a lion)

  • Inhale deeply with the tip of the tongue extended as much as possible towards the chin

  • Make a prominent sound of air while exhaling

  • Keep the eye’s gaze on the tip of the nose

This playful pose may also require you to put self-consciousness aside, which can help you release inhibitions and overcome stress.

Daily practice is vital to improve lung capacity.

Each of the techniques mentioned above can help improve lung mechanics and breathing patterns. These breathing exercises can positively impact exercise tolerance, body oxygen levels, and emotional well-being with regular practice.

If you find these exercises difficult or concerned about your lung health or lung capacity, be sure to share your experience with a medical professional. 

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