Breathing Retraining for Improved Lung Function in People with Lung Disease

Breathing is something we all take for granted until it becomes a struggle. For people living with lung disease, every breath can be a challenge. Difficulty breathing is a common symptom of many lung diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and interstitial lung disease. These conditions can lead to shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing, which can impact a person’s quality of life.

Fortunately, there are ways to improve lung function and manage these symptoms. One effective method is breathing retraining. Breathing retraining is a technique that teaches individuals how to use their lungs more efficiently, allowing them to breathe easier and reduce shortness of breath. In this blog, we’ll explore what breathing retraining is and how it can benefit people with lung disease.

What is Breathing Retraining?

Breathing retraining is a series of exercises designed to help individuals with lung disease improve their breathing patterns. The goal of breathing retraining is to help people use their lungs more efficiently, which can improve oxygenation and reduce shortness of breath. This technique involves slow, deep breathing exercises and can be practiced at home or in a clinical setting.

Breathing retraining techniques include:

  1. Diaphragmatic Breathing: Also known as belly breathing, this technique involves taking slow, deep breaths while expanding the belly. This technique helps individuals breathe more deeply and fully, which can improve lung function and reduce shortness of breath.

  2. Pursed Lip Breathing: This technique involves inhaling slowly through the nose and exhaling slowly through pursed lips. This technique can help reduce shortness of breath by slowing down the breathing rate and reducing the work of breathing.

  3. Controlled Breathing: This technique involves breathing in slowly for a count of four, holding the breath for a count of four, and exhaling slowly for a count of four. This technique can help individuals manage shortness of breath during periods of exertion or anxiety.

How Can Breathing Retraining Help People with Lung Disease?

Breathing retraining can have several benefits for people with lung disease, including:

  1. Improving Lung Function: Breathing retraining can help individuals use their lungs more efficiently, which can improve oxygenation and reduce shortness of breath.

  2. Reducing Symptoms: By learning to control their breathing, individuals can reduce the severity and frequency of symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

  3. Increasing Endurance: By improving lung function and reducing symptoms, breathing retraining can help individuals increase their endurance and engage in activities that they previously found challenging.

  4. Reducing Anxiety: Difficulty breathing can be a source of anxiety for many people with lung disease. Breathing retraining can help individuals feel more in control of their breathing, which can reduce anxiety and improve overall well-being.

Breathing retraining can be done alone or in combination with other treatments like medication or pulmonary rehabilitation. It is important to talk to your doctor before starting any new treatment or exercise program.

Sign up for the iMaster Health Online Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program to receive access to a library of breathing exercises tailored to your lung condition. 

Interested in supervised exercise training? Join the iMaster Health 8-week Lung Workshop! Book a free consultation to get started!

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Pulmonary rehabilitation helps ease respiratory symptoms, improve physical and psychological well-being, and increase disease management. Please discuss your decision to begin online pulmonary rehabilitation with a doctor or health care provider.

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