Breathing Exercises to Increase Lung Capacity

Oxygen is essential to the metabolic function of all cells, and the body cannot survive without it. The lungs are an important part of a greater system that delivers oxygen throughout the body. Breathing exercises enhance your bodies ability to absorb and make use of this element. Improved lung function also guards against the onset of illness. Holger Schunemann, M.D., lead researcher of a study on the connection between lung function and mortality, stated, "The lung is a primary defense organism against environmental toxins. It could be that impaired pulmonary function could lead to decreased tolerance against these toxins." A larger lung capacity not only improves stamina but generally results in better overall health.

Young woman practicing yoga during sunset (Image: XiXinXing/XiXinXing/Getty Images)

Pushing Out

This exercise was popularized by doctors Paul and Patricia Bragg, authors of Super-Power Breathing. Assume an upright posture, preferably standing on flat ground. Keeping both knees loose, bend over from the waist, simultaneously pushing out all air from your lungs. Slowly return to a vertical position, inhaling at an equal rate. Fill your lungs to the greatest degree comfortably possible and hold this breath for a count of 20. If 20 seconds it too long, choose a timing that you can manage. While counting, extend both arms fully overhead. Relax, lower your arms and exhale slowly. Complete this cycle four times.

Rib Stretch

Standing upright, expel all the air from your lungs. Slowly breathe in, expanding your lungs to maximum capacity. Hold the air for as long as 20 seconds. While counting, rest both hands on your hips, thumbs facing front with pinkies touching in the small of your back. Release the air slowly and relax. Repeat three more times.

Abdominal Breathing

Lay in a comfortable position on your back. Rest one hand on top of your abdomen and the other on your chest. Breathe in deeply and slowly, pulling from your mid-section. When done correctly, the hand on your belly will rise higher than the other. Exhale slowly and completely through the mouth. Inhale fully through the nose, holding your breath at the end for seven seconds if possible. Slowly breathe out for a full count of eight. Squeeze your abdominal muscles toward the end, in order to discharge any residual air. Breath in this way for five complete cycles.

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