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Breathing Techniques to Increase Oxygen at Home

If you are struggling with breathing difficulties or feeling short of breath, you might wonder how to get more oxygen in your blood. Certain breathing techniques not only combat the physical and mental sensations associated with shortness of breath, but when done correctly, they can actually increase your oxygen levels.[1] Read on to learn more about how to get more oxygen with each inhale to help relieve the symptoms of your breathing difficulties.

How to Increase Blood Oxygen Level

Most people think of breathing as an automatic process, but it is possible to breathe incorrectly, resulting in insufficient oxygenation. As people with breathing difficulties know, the harder it feels to breathe, the more you struggle to catch your breath. This cycle results in anxiety, labored breathing and bad breathing habits, all of which make breathing feel even more difficult. Learning how to increase blood oxygen levels with breathing techniques can take some practice, but with a little time and repetition, you can learn how to get more oxygen with these exercises.[1] Read through the following breathing techniques and practice them, noting how you feel before, during and after completing the exercise. Once you know how to get more oxygen in your blood, you have a powerful tool to combat shortness of breath. 

Diaphragmatic Breathing

People with breathing difficulties often get in the habit of breathing incorrectly, using their back, chest, neck, rib and shoulder muscles to breathe rather than breathing with their diaphragm. Because the diaphragm is not being used to its full capacity, it weakens, worsening the habit of breathing with the wrong muscles and leading to lower oxygen levels and less of an oxygen reserve. Diaphragmatic breathing helps correct these inefficient breathing habits by strengthening the diaphragm and the abdominal muscles and re-teaching you how to move air in and out of your lungs more effectively to breathe correctly. With practice, you can learn how to get more oxygen by training your diaphragm and lungs to become better at getting rid of stale air so you can achieve full inhalations. Here’s how to increase oxygen in blood this way.[2]

  1. Lie on your back and bend your knees so that the bottom of your feet are resting on the bed.
  2. Place your hands on top of your stomach or wrap them around the sides of your stomach.
  3. Close your lips and place your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
  4. Breathe in through the nose and pull air down into your stomach where your hands are. Try to spread your fingers apart with your breath.
  5. Slowly exhale your breath through the nose.
  6. Repeat deep breaths for one minute.

Humming While Exhaling

Humming while exhaling helps increase nitric oxide production in the body. Nitric oxide helps with building and repair of the nervous system and it dilates blood vessels, enabling more oxygen to be delivered throughout the body. Humming is also calming and soothing, it reduces stress and it can help the patient remain in restoration mode.

  1. Sit upright on the edge of your bed or in a sturdy chair.
  2. Place your hands around the sides of your stomach.
  3. With your lips closed and your tongue on the roof of your mouth, breathe in through your nose and pull air down into your stomach where your hands are. Try to spread your fingers apart with your breath.
  4. Once your lungs are full, keep your lips closed and exhale while humming, making the “hmmmmmm” sound. Notice how your hands lower back down.
  5. Again, inhale through your nose, then exhale through your nose while humming.
  6. Repeat for one minute.[2]

Pursed Lip Breathing

Pursed lip breathing works by slowing your breathing down and keeping your airways open longer, allowing more air to enter your lungs and allowing your lungs to empty more efficiently. It also decreases the work of breathing, which can help you breathe more effectively as well.[1]

Pursed lip breathing should be practiced until it becomes second nature. It’s most effective when you’re focused or relaxed. Here’s how to practice.

  1. Sit with your back straight or lie down. Relax your shoulders as much as possible.
  2. Inhale through your nose for two seconds, feeling the air move into your abdomen. Try to fill your abdomen with air instead of just your lungs.
  3. Purse your lips like you’re blowing on hot food and then breathe out slowly, taking twice as long to exhale as you took to breathe in.
  4. Then repeat. Over time, you can increase the inhale and exhale counts from 2 seconds to 4 seconds, and so on.[3]

References

  1. “Breathing Exercises.” American Lung Association, American Lung Association , 27 May 2020, www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/wellness/breathing-exercises.
  2. Lien, Peiting. “Coronavirus Recovery: Breathing Exercises.” Johns Hopkins Medicine – Health, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Accessed 18 Sept. 2020, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-recovery-breathing-exercises.
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/pursed-lip-breathing

Additional Sources


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