How to Open Your Lungs

Happy girl face breathing fresh air in a meadow
A woman is taking a deep breath. (Image: AntonioGuillem/iStock/Getty Images)

Your lung capacity can decrease with age or with insufficient use. If you always use shallow breathing techniques, your lungs will not fully expand. Over time, this shallow breathing can result in rib cage stiffness and muscle tension, and may prevent you from taking in a deep breath. Practicing deep breathing techniques, also called diaphragmatic breathing, can open up your lungs and fill your body with adequate oxygen.

Standing

Step 1

Stand and wrap your robe belt around your waist at the lower end of your rib cage. Cross the belt ends and hold one in each hand.

Step 2

Exhale and tighten the belt as your chest falls with your breath.

Step 3

Inhale deep into your lungs. Aim to open the belt as you expand your rib cage.

Step 4

Repeat the breathing cycle for five to 10 repetitions.

Lying

Step 1

Lie on your back and bend your knees to place your feet on the floor if you have any back pain.

Step 2

Place your hands across your stomach with your palms down and your thumbs at the base of your rib cage. Leave a small space between your middle fingers so that they are almost touching.

Step 3

Inhale and take your breath down into your stomach so that the space between your middle fingers increases.

Step 4

Hold for one count, then exhale and allow your stomach to flatten.

Step 5

Repeat the breath cycle for three to five minutes.

Warning

If your lungs fail to improve or you have difficulty breathing, contact your health care provider.

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