How Effective Are Lung Exercises?

Regular workouts usually involve exercises for specific body parts such as core, glutes, shoulders, legs; you name it.

Maneuvers such as lung exercises are becoming widely talked about.

You’ve probably come across tips and recommendations to do lung exercises.

Maybe even your healthcare recommended them. But, are they really effective?

The main objective of this post is to provide more info about lung exercises and their potential effectiveness.

Read on to learn more. 

Photo by PxHere

What Are Lung Exercises?

Lung exercises are, essentially, exercises that work primarily on a person’s respiratory system.

Unlike “typical” exercises we do at home or in the gym, lung exercises usually do not move the entire body or multiple muscle groups.

Performed in a seated or standing position, lung exercises primarily intend to promote healthy and effective breathing as well as breath control. 

Physical activity, in general, is important for a healthy respiratory system.

Being sedentary or physically inactive worsens lung function and aggravates dyspnea (shortness of breath).

Like every other part of your body, your respiratory system and especially your lungs need you to be physically active.

Lack of it can lead to respiratory deconditioning and chronic respiratory debility. For that reason, you shouldn’t rely on lung exercises only.

You can yield the best results if you combine these exercises and your regular workouts such as aerobic exercises. 

What Is The Purpose Of Lung Exercises?

People do lung exercises for several reasons, but for many, the main intention is to improve lung function.

You see, breathing is easy and natural when a person has healthy lungs.

A diaphragm does about 80% of the work as it fills a person’s lungs with a combination of oxygen and other gases and sends the waste gas such as carbon dioxide out.

Our lungs may lose that effortless functionality due to several factors including respiratory illness such as asthma or COPD, which may have severe symptoms.

As a result, stale air may accumulate thus leaving less room for contraction of the diaphragm that would allow it to inhale oxygen. It’s difficult to remove carbon dioxide at this point.

The body compensates for problems with the diaphragm and breathing muscles by using other muscles to breathe.

These include muscles in the neck, chest, and back. What happens next is that oxygen levels decrease.

The main purpose of lung or breathing exercises is to eliminate the accumulated stale air and thereby provide you with more oxygen.

That way, these exercises may help the diaphragm restore its function.

Besides improved lung and respiratory function or management of conditions such as asthma, people do breathing exercises for purposes such as healthier heart, energy boost, better sleep, and more functional immune system.

After all, fresh oxygen is crucial for the proper function of the entire body, including the nervous system, blood vessels, among other things.

Taking deep breaths can release nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels and improves blood flow.

The Efficacy Of Lung Exercises

As people do lung exercises for various reasons, it’s impossible not to wonder whether, and how, effective they are.

Current evidence on this subject shows these exercises can be, indeed, beneficial. 

For example, one medically reviewed paper from March 2020 found breathing exercises may have a positive influence on the quality of life, could increase lung capacity and hyperventilation symptoms in patients with asthma.

A different review focused on persons with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease found breathing exercises can improve ventilation and quality of life. 

Lung exercises are particularly important if we bear in mind evidence shows numerous factors, including environmental exposure to allergens, pollution, and smoking, can affect respiratory function.

Infections in the respiratory tract may have long-term effects on lung health.

The importance of lung exercises where we simply breathe has been a subject of many peer-reviewed studies and reviews with strict sourcing guidelines and tertiary references.

As the latest news, Michigan health system, and Healthline media show, these exercises can improve breathing impaired by lung disease and help people manage their symptoms. 

Are There Risks Involved When Performing Lung Exercises?

Editor's Pick
AirPhysio Natural Breathing Lung Expansion AirPhysio Natural Breathing Lung Expansion
  • Uses Oscillating Positive Expiratory Pressure (OPEP)
  • Used for respiratory training
  • Also used for alleviating symptoms of Asthma, Atelectasis, Bronchiectasis, Emphysema, COPD, Chronic Bronchitis, and many more

Lung exercises are generally safe to do, the same as AirPhysio.

That being said, there are some precautions you need to take.

You shouldn’t do these exercises if you have a fever, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing while at rest, chest pain or palpitations, and recent swelling in your legs.

You should stop with lung exercises if you experience:

  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Clammy, cool skin

Some people may experience lightheadedness, sleepiness, and tingling in their hands, face, and feet when performing deep breathing exercises.

These adverse reactions are not that common and you can avoid them by finding the best lung trainer and adhering to their instructions.

They may also give you lung exercisers to try. If you’re wondering how effective are lung exercisers, they could be equally beneficial as exercises.

Remember, most people do these exercises on a daily basis without experiencing side effects. 

If you’re worried about respiratory health, you may want to consult a doctor.

Healthcare professionals will provide medical advice and explain how you can benefit from taking deep breaths and performing lung exercises.

They will also inform you when to avoid doing them.

Breathing Exercises To Improve Lung Health

The benefits of breathing exercises have been demonstrated in scientific studies.

Whether you want to improve lung function or experience other benefits, it’s useful to know some of the best lung exercises.

You can learn more about them below.

Pursed Lip Breathing

Pursed lip breathing decreases the number of breaths a person takes and prolongs the opening of airways.

As a result, more air flows in the lungs and out of them, thus helping a person increase physical activity levels. 

In other words, pursed-lip breathing exercise improves ventilation, alleviates dyspnea, and prolongs exhalation in order to slow down the breathing rate.

Moreover, with this exercise, you can feel more relaxed, release trapped air in your lungs, and improve breathing patterns.

Performing pursed lip breathing exercise is easy, you just need to:

  • Relax shoulder muscles and neck, and entire upper body
  • Keeping your mouth closed, slowly inhale through the nose 
  • Count to 2 (no need to take a deep breath, normal breath is okay)
  • Purse your lips 
  • Slowly exhale through the pursed or puckered lips while counting to 4

Although it may seem odd at the beginning, with a little bit of practice, this technique will come naturally to you.

Just make sure to avoid forcing the air out and always exhale longer than you inhale. And you don’t have to breathe deeply.

Make sure to do pursed lip breathing during difficult parts of activities like heavy lifting, bending, or climbing the stairs. 

But, you may want to start practicing pursed lip breathing four to five times a day at first.

While it may take a few minutes to perform this exercise, the benefits could be outstanding. 

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Also called belly breathing, diaphragmatic breathing is an exercise whose main objective is to strengthen the diaphragm.

This exercise is particularly useful for persons with COPD because their diaphragm isn’t as strong.

The truth is there are several forms of diaphragmatic breathing, but the basic approach looks like this:

  • Lie down on the floor and place a pillow under your head and knees
  • Put one hand on the middle area of your upper chest and the other hand on the stomach above the diaphragm but below the ribcage
  • Inhale slowly through the nose and draw the air toward your stomach (if you do it correctly, your chest will stay still, but your stomach will push upward against your hand)
  • Exhale through pursed lips and tighten the muscles of your abdomen (the chest will remain still, but stomach will fall downward)

Ideally, you should practice diaphragmatic breathing three to four times a day with five to 10 minutes per session.

Once you get comfortable performing this exercise in a lying position, you can start performing it while standing, or you can sit upright.

Such placement will give you more of a challenge for greater benefits.

Additional Benefits Of Lung And Breathing Exercises

The benefits of breathing exercises go beyond improved respiratory function. They have the potential to help you have a healthier life.

Breathing exercises can also:

  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Strengthen immunity due to improved absorption of vitamins and minerals
  • Relieve Stress and anxiety 
  • Improve the quality of sleep
  • Reduce toxicity of the body
  • Maintain energy levels
  • Relieve gastrointestinal issues, indigestion, and constipation 
  • Improve cardiovascular health
  • Improve concentration and cognitive function
  • Provide anti-inflammatory effects

Extra Tips To Improve Lung Health

Lung health should not be neglected.

These tips will help you support lung health and respiratory function:

  • Quit smoking
  • Eat antioxidant-rich food
  • Exercise regularly
  • Lose weight or maintain your weight in a healthy range
  • Use indoor air filters to improve the quality of indoor air
  • Decrease pollutants like dust, mold, and artificial fragrances in your home
  • Get vaccinated to prevent respiratory infections
  • Stay hydrated
  • Work on improving your posture
  • Meditate and practice yoga


Lung exercises are beneficial in more ways than one, not just for the lungs.

They can aid the management of various health conditions. These exercises can improve our overall health.

Start slowly, focus on perfecting your technique, and strive to do these exercises regularly. 


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Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a bachelor’s degree in medicine from Alexandria university and is a practicing plastic surgeon. He’s our expert on all things nutrition, medicine, rehabilitation, and flexibility. Dr.Ahmed has been a medical content writer for more than 11 years and his work reached top publications such as the HuffingtonPost

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