In these Covid-19 times, we have realized how important our respiratory system is! People living in urban areas have been fighting with respiratory illnesses because of many factors such as pollution, lifestyles, food etc. However, it does not take too long to not only repair your respiratory system but to increase lung capacity.
For those who have not got infected by Coronavirus, it is important to be prepared so that your lungs can give a tough fight to the infection and help you come out healthy. However for those who have recovered well need to also help repair lungs prepare for any future infection as there are so many virus strains now.
We attempt to give you six basic breathing exercises which will help you clear secretions, increase lung capacity and improve the strength of muscles required for breathing.
Control the airflow through your lungs
All you need to do it sit in a relaxed posture. Now take a deep breath slowly and start counting. Once you have filled your lungs to the capacity, hold for a count of 3 seconds. Then exhale slowly in the same count as you did for breathing in. As you progress in this exercise, try to increase your inhaling and exhaling time and your hold time. Remember that you should be sitting down in a relaxed posture. Do this for about 5 minutes twice a day.
This is also known as Abdominal Breathing. While breathing and doing multitasking, we often do not engage all the muscles. This leads to the underutilization of our lungs. We feel we are getting enough oxygen however this is a major cause of several diseases such as Irritated bowel syndrome, stress, high blood pressure, insomnia, and many more.
Lie on the floor on your back or sit in a comfortable position with relaxed shoulders. Now put your hand on the stomach (diaphragm actually). Now practice breathing such that you can see your hand move up and down more and more. With practice, you will be able to use your diaphragm muscle to fill the lungs more efficiently.
Cardiovascular or aerobic exercises
As our heart beats faster, our breathing increases. We all know that when we run we start to breathe more per minute. However, we do not realize that many of us start doing shallow breathing while doing cardiovascular exercises. Since we are performing an aerobic activity, our body continues to demand more oxygen. But our shallow breathing rate is now able to meet the demand. Hence our breathing rate further goes up till we finally have to stop. We will do it a bit differently,
Choose any of the cardiovascular exercises which you are comfortable with however should be hard enough to start oxygen demand. Brisk walking, jogging, skipping, cardio workout or maybe climbing stairs, are among a few which will increase your heart rate and breathing rate. What we will now do is that at the end of every 2 or 3 minutes, we will check if we are shallow breathing or not. If we are (which will be in most of the cases), we will slow down, fill our lungs completely and then exhale a few times. Once we have cleared our lungs, we will go ahead with our aerobic workout.
To get healthy effortless breathing we need to have a clear passage for the air to go in and come out. If less effort is required, we will be able to inhale and exhale better and utilize our lung capacity well.
Anulom-vilom is the best pranayama to clear the passage. All we need to do is sit upright in a chair or on the ground comfortably. Close one nostril and breathe in from the other nostril. Then close both the nostrils and hold the air in for a few seconds. Now open the other nostril and exhale the air out. Repeat by taking the air in from the nostril which is open and then again hold the air inside by closing both the nostrils. Now the turn is for other nostril to be opened to exhale. Repeat this for 5 minutes at least two times a day.
Lung expansion exercise
Under normal circumstances, our involuntary inhalation does not utilize all our muscles and lung capacity. However, we can train our muscles to become more efficient even while involuntary inhalation.
Sit in a comfortable position and take a deep breath. Once you feel that you have taken a full breath, try to force some more air inside by using your diaphragm and other muscles. You will be amazed to see that you can take in some more air. Once it is so full that no air is going in, try to hold it for a few seconds. 5 Second hold is very good and will come with practice. Initially, you may not be able to hold more than a second. Repeat this exercise many times. Your lung capacity and oxygen exchange rate will go up all day long if practiced once a day