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3 Breathing Exercises for Chronic Bronchitis

Medically reviewed by Jezreel Esguerra, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Mar 18, 2023

3 Breathing Exercises for Chronic Bronchitis

Our everyday lives revolve around this natural process. Employing proper breathing techniques can help reduce shortness of breath and ensure sufficient oxygen to your working muscles. What is a helpful breathing exercise for chronic bronchitis? Find out here.

What Is Chronic Bronchitis?

Chronic bronchitis refers to bronchial inflammation that lasts for a long time. This disease is common to people who regularly smoke and who are more prone to lung infections. 

Patients with chronic bronchitis may also develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which causes breathing issues due to dead spaces in the air passage in the lungs. The airways may swell or thicken more than usual, and mucus production may rise. Furthermore, the floppy airways are partially clogged, which makes it even more difficult to expel air from the lungs.

How Does Breathing Exercise for Chronic Bronchitis Help?

Doctors may recommend COPD patients undergo pulmonary rehabilitation to improve their physical function and quality of life. Aside from the exercise training, education, nutritional intervention, and psychosocial support, this treatment program often involves breathing exercise for chronic bronchitis. 

The goal of breathing exercises is to counteract the typical COPD trend of increasing auxiliary muscle and rib cage use. Breathing exercises can increase the efficiency of your lungs the same way aerobic exercises boost the heart’s function and build muscles.

Breathing Exercise for Chronic Bronchitis

Below are helpful breathing exercises and techniques you can do right at home to help your lungs take in as much oxygen as they could.

Pursed Lip Breathing

Pursed lip breathing is one of the most common breathing exercises for chronic bronchitis. This practice helps you take fewer breaths while keeping your airways open for a longer period of time. When you make this exercise a habit, you can be more physically active since more air can move in and out of your lungs.

You may practice pursed-lip breathing by following these steps:

  • Inhale deeply through your nose for two seconds,  just like what you do when you are trying to smell something. Fill your lungs with air through the use of your stomach or abdominal muscles.
  • Pucker your lips (as if you are blowing something). After which, gently exhale through your mouth. Exhale two times more as you did when you inhaled. As you exhale, make a low hissing sound.
  • Continue the process numerous times.

Diaphragmatic Breathing (Belly Breathing)

Diaphragmatic breathing, often known as belly breathing, strengthens the diaphragm. The diaphragm is one of the most vital muscles for breathing. When you have COPD, the air gets trapped in your lungs and pushes against your lungs. As a result, persons with COPD breathe more through the neck, shoulder, and back muscles than with their diaphragm.

The optimal utilization of the diaphragm is considered to be helpful since it draws air into the lower lobes of the lungs, where greater gas exchange occurs. It encourages patients to breathe through their abdomen wall instead of their chest walls, which reduces chest wall motion. Moreover, it is also incredibly relaxing and soothing to use.

The following are the step-by-step procedure for this type of breathing exercise for chronic bronchitis:

  • Position yourself on a flat surface. Ensure that your head has support and that your knees are bent.
  • Place one hand slightly below your ribs and the other over your breastbone in the center chest area.
  • Inhale through your nose, slowly and deeply.
  • Exhale slowly through pursed lips while tightening the muscles right behind your ribs. A helpful tip for this is to use the hand you positioned behind your ribs to slowly press in and up.
  • Repeat the process.

Unlike pursed-lip breathing, this technique requires more practice as you go along it. When you get the hang of it, you may use this type of breathing to reduce the shortness of breath during daily activities. Climbing the stairs, carrying or lifting an object, and exercising are few examples of such activities.

Controlled Breathing 

The goal of coordinated breathing is to ensure that your working muscles get enough oxygen while also preventing you from holding your breath.

Before beginning the exercise or activity, take a deep breath through your nostrils. But you may exhale through the pursed lips method when you are doing your exercises. 

If you’re having trouble syncing your breathing with your exercise, count out loud as you go through the motions. This will allow you to avoid holding your breath. 

Key Takeaway

It may take a while for you to appreciate how these breathing exercises for chronic bronchitis may help you and your lungs. But, continuous practice for about 5-10 minutes per day will sure make a difference in your respiratory health management. 

Learn more about chronic bronchitis here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Jezreel Esguerra, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Mar 18, 2023

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