Exercises for Asthma and Emphysema


When the body is working normally, breathing accounts for about two percent of body metabolism. Respiratory acidosis, however, may create rapid breathing conditions. The workload of respiration may go up to as high as forty percent, producing tension, high lactic acid blood levels and difficult and shallow breathing. Learning to breathe correctly is essential for optimum health and energy. Abdominal breathing forces blood supply into the lower pelvis and legs. Intercostal breathing sends blood into the liver, intestines, heart and lungs. Clavicular breathing brings a massive supply of blood to the neck, head and arms. The results of regular breathing practice may soon be evident: no colds, breathing problems, or asthmatic attacks. Energy is stored up creating a vibrant, vigorous feeling of well-being. Destructive habits such as cigarette smoking and eating junk food must be eliminated. 
  • To develop a new pattern of breathing. 
  • To develop voluntary control of expiration (breathing out) using abdominal muscles. 
  • To increase efficiency of muscles of expiration. 
  • To control inspiration by "breathing in" in a relaxed and passive manner with use of the diaphragm only. 
  • To coordinate the new breathing pattern with daily activities. 
1. Lie on back. Relax with head slightly elevated and knees and hips slightly flexed. If easier, do the exercises sitting down with back slightly flexed. 
a. Allow air to come in through nose if nasal passages are clear. 
b. Breathe air out (exhale) through mouth. 
c. Contract abdominal muscles to force air out by pushing up on diaphragm and pulling down on chest. 
d. Relax abdominal muscles and permit air to enter lungs. Contraction of diaphragm may assist. Avoid raising chest or contracting neck muscles. 
e. Take at least two to three times as long for breathing out as for inspiration. During practice expiration may be accompanied by a soft "ss" sound. 
f. Assist expiration by tightening a belt of webbing or towel six inches wide around lower part of chest to narrow and depress thorax or rib cage further. 
g. Breathe slowly, smoothly and rhythmically without tension, particularly at end of expiration and at time of transition to inspiration. 
h. Continue practice in this position until you can take 10-15 consecutive breaths without fatigue. 
2. Now practice breathing in this same way while lying on each side in a partially flexed position. 
3. Practice breathing in this new way while sitting down with back slightly flexed and not rigid, knees apart and hands at sides or on thighs. The webbing belt may be used to assist with expiration. Observe abdominal muscles carefully for good contraction and relaxation. 
4. Practice breathing in this way while in a relaxed standing position. 
5. Practice breathing in this new way while walking naturally with good posture. 
6. Practice breathing like this while climbing stairs. Climb two to four steps during expiration and one step during inspiration. Use this same pattern while descending. Attempt gradually to increase number of steps that can be climbed without fatigue. 
7. Practice lifting and carrying objects while maintaining this new pattern of breathing. Gradually increase weight of objects and distance carried. 
8. Eliminate breathing through the mouth except during heavy exercise. 
1. While standing or sitting, clasp the hands behind the head. If this position is not practical, stand with hands on hip. Pull bent elbows firmly back while inhaling deeply. Hold this position for a count of 5; exhale and relax. Repeat 20 to 50 times. 
2. Sit cross-legged on the floor or on a firm straight-backed chair. Hold your head and back erect, but not rigid. Blow your nose to clear both nostrils because deep breathing can only be done through the nose. Rest your hands, palms up, on your knees. Inhale slowly until you reach a feeling of fullness without strain. Feel your lungs and rib cage expand, then your abdomen. Pause for two or three seconds, holding air in lungs, Exhale slowly and smoothly. With practice, you should be able to slow your breathing to eight or ten cycles per minute. You may repeat this exercise while standing with back against the wall. 
3. Stand, feet and legs together. Inhaling, stretch the arms and fingers straight up toward the ceiling and gaze at the hands. Exhaling, slowly bend forward from the waist bringing the arms and hands down toward the floor and clasp the calves at the widest part with the respective hands. Turn the face in toward the legs. (Note: Try to keep the elbows pressed in close to the body and knees straight.) Release the hands and slowly inhale as you curl the trunk back up to the upright standing position. Hook the thumbs together and reach up, stretch up, and look up. 
4. Standing, take a deep breath and pull stomach in as far as possible. Exhale pushing your stomach in and out rapidly like a panting dog. Do this until you feel the diaphragm muscle in the pit of your stomach getting tired. 
5. Lymphatic pump (passive) - The patient lies on his back. Assistant stands facing the top of the patient's head and places the palms of both hands on patient's chest. Patient takes a deep breath. As he exhales, assistant pushes down and releases rapidly on chest. This forces expulsion of material out of alveolar sacs when lungs are congested, 3-5 times during each expiration. 
• Wear loose, comfortable clothing, no belt or tight underwear. 
• Hold head and back erect, but not rigid. 
• Blow your nose to clear both nostrils. 
• Avoid straining to hold your breath, exhale slowly and smoothly. 
• Practice breathing exercises three times a day (before eating) until you master them, then once in the morning and once in the evening should be adequate. Do them at least a half hour before a meal. 
• An air purifier or ionizer is a good investment if you have chronic asthma as it takes all pollen, dust or pollution out of the air. 
• If the lungs have a lot of congestion, the humidity should be monitored. In the winter time a cold steam vaporizer is beneficial.