As a disease that attacks the respiratory system, often causing long-lasting damage and leading to issues such as acute respiratory distress syndrome and pneumonia, a lot of people who experience chronic COVID-19 symptoms, also known as long COVID, can have difficulty breathing for quite some time.

As such, an important part of long-term COVID recovery is regular practice of breathing exercises. These exercises as described here are playing a key role in the treatments being used across the board for patients recovering from COVID.

Are Breathing Exercises Effective?

Typically, you might associate breathing exercises with methods of treatment designed to fight things like anxiety, stress, and depression. There is a lot of evidence to show that they can help affect the parasympathetic nervous system which plays a key role in our “fight or flight” response which, when out of control, can lead to panic attacks.

However, more recently, emphasis has been put on the ability of breath work to improve lung capacity (your lung’s ability to hold air) and diaphragm function (the mechanics that actually push the breath out and draw it back in.)  A lot of people experiencing chronic COVID symptoms might feel okay when they are at rest, but they can have trouble with breathing when they are active.

Furthermore, slow functional breathing can aid in getting oxygen deep into the lungs, which can help get rid of the mucus and fluids that can build up as a result of COVID. The ability to help people feel calmer can also be a serious benefit when it comes to managing the stress that comes with chronic illness.

Examples of Breathing Techniques That Can Help

If you are experiencing some of the symptoms of long COVID such as shortness of breath, trouble breathing, a regular cough, brain fog, and so on, then there may be some breathing exercises that can help. However, you should stop any breathing exercises if you begin to feel dizziness, increased shortness of breath, chest pain, cool or clammy skin, extreme fatigue, or an irregular heartbeat. If these symptoms persist, then you should call 999. Here are some of the exercises to consider:

Yawn to a smile

Humming while exhaling

This technique focuses on breathing co-ordination. It improves breathing efficiency by fully engaging the diaphragm. Practice this exercise gently, never force.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

The yogic practice of pranayama (breathing regulation) is thousands of years old.  In Sanskrit, alternate nostril breathing is known as nadi shodhana pranayama which literally translates as ” subtle energy clearing breathing technique”. Great for improving lung function, lowering heart rate, blood pressure and stress.

Bow Back Stretch

This Yoga exercise helps stretch the spine and improves breathing by releasing built up tension in the breathing muscles. Focus on breathing throughout this exercise to better increase lung capacity.

Breath work could play a huge role in helping many people recover from the symptoms of long COVID. If your doctor recommends it, you might want to consider the exercises mentioned above in addition to other treatments. At our studio, we can help you learn proper breathing techniques to help diminish the symptoms of long COVID.