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Exercises for Hyperexpanded Lungs

author image Rachel Nall
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.
Exercises for Hyperexpanded Lungs
An elderly couple walking on the beach Photo Credit: Digital Vision./DigitalVision/Getty Images

Hyperexpanded lungs occur when the air sacs of the lungs break down and become enlarged. This affects the lungs’ ability to take in new air, making it difficult to breathe, particularly when you exhale. This condition is most commonly associated with lung problems such as emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD. Breathing exercises and cardiovascular exercise can improve your breathing function and should be performed most days of a week to reduce difficulties related to hyperexpanded lungs.

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Exercise Breathing

Practicing modified breathing during exercise is important for people with hyperexpanded lungs because it enables you to exercise more effectively and for longer periods of time. For best results, practice this breathing exercise on a daily basis and when you exercise for best results. Purse your lips together and inhale for two seconds. Exhale for four seconds, keeping the lips pursed. Continue breathing in this manner for one to two minutes. Pursing the lips warms and aids moisture to the air before it enters the body, making it more easily filtered by the lungs. Exhaling for a longer period than you inhale helps to compensate for the slower exhalation that those with COPD experience.


Walking is a low-impact exercise that can help you maintain a healthy weight and improve circulation and lung function. However, for those with hyperexpanded lungs, walking presents some challenges. Because you may feel breathless the first few times you walk, aim for a short distance. Set a goal to walk to the end of your street or for five minutes. Count your steps as you walk, exhaling for twice as many steps. For example, you may inhale on steps one, two and three and exhale for six steps. Practice each time you walk to ensure this becomes a habit. Increase the distance you walk as often as possible, but do stop and rest for two to three minutes if you sense you are losing your breath.

Elbow Breathing

This exercise strengthens the arms and improves your breathing. To perform, sit with your feet slightly less than shoulder-width apart. Slowly lift your elbows in the air until they are shoulder level. Touch your fingertips together in front of your chest. Breathe in slowly as you pull your elbows backward and the fingertips apart. After you have pulled your elbows as far as they comfortably can go, breathe out to lower the arms to your starting position.

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