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How to Maintain Respiratory Health


Take a deep breath

One of the keys to maintaining pulmonary health is in the breath. 


Maintaining flexibility

Being able to inhale and exhale deeply is reliant upon the mobility of bones and joints that constitute the rib cage. It also relies upon the pliability of the soft tissues; the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and their ability to expand and contract in response to breath and movement.


Preventing respiratory illness

Breathing and stretching exercises help to improve lung capacity and slow down the respiratory rate. Performing these simple exercises daily will help you to cultivate a stronger, more resilient response to respiratory illness.


Breathing exercises


1. Pursed lip breathing


Breathe in slowly through your nose. Hold your breath at the top of your inhalation for 10 seconds. The ability to hold your breath is critical for maintaining good lung health. Then, breathe out slowly through pursed lips, lengthening your expiration until you have expelled all the air possible. Imagine you are blowing out the candles on a birthday cake. 


2. Three-part breathing exercise


Lying supine, rest your hands on your belly below your navel. Inhale deeply, and direct your breath into the belly, then exhale. If you are doing this properly your hands will rise as you breathe in and then fall as you breathe out. You can repeat this exercise and develop a slow methodical rhythm breathing into the belly followed by a long slow exhale.


Next, place your hands on each side of your lower ribs. Breathe into the belly and then continue to inhale as the breath flows up into the lower ribs. A long deep inspiration is followed by a slow full exhalation. 


Finally, place your hands on your chest just below your collarbones. Breathe into your belly then your ribs and then your upper chest. As you progressively breathe into your belly, ribs, and upper chest your entire trunk will rise and expand.


Tip: Count to 4 on the breath in, count to 4 on the breath out. Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed. Avoid hunching them up to your ears. Avoid over-efforting or tensing any part of your body to direct your breath.


3. Towel stretch with back bend


 With arms extended in front of you wider than shoulder width, hold the ends of a long towel or sheet. Slowly breathe in, raise the towel toward the ceiling, and extend your arms reaching over your head. Lean backward as far as you can, while gazing upward.  Hold the breath for several seconds. Then, slowly lower the towel while breathing out on the way back down back down.


Tip: You can increase the difficulty of the exercise by beginning with your hands closer to each other. Keep your neck soft and in line with your spinal column.


4. Towel stretch with side bends


Repeat the first exercise until arms are raised up to the ceiling, then lean trunk and head sideways while pulling on the lower end of the towel as you stretch the opposite side of the rib cage. Bring your arms back up to the ceiling (neutral) and repeat to the other side.


Tip: Keep your weight evenly distributed between both legs while leaning sideways. Your head rests upon the top of your spinal column. Be aware of your neck responding and following the sideways movement of the trunk.


Good posture supports healthy breathing


Good posture supports healthy breathing, while sitting in a collapsed rounded posture promotes shallow breathing. By maximizing your lung health before getting sick you are improving your ability to respond to and recover from illness. Typically, we use only half of our lung capacity. Good posture, breathing exercises, stretching, aerobic activity, and good indoor air quality are complementary components of pulmonary health.


Rebekah and David Frome have been working in the healing arts for over three decades. They have helped thousands of people recover from trauma and leave pain behind. They practice in Montclair and Asbury Park, NJ. For help with tapping into your potential call us at 973.509.8464 or book an appointment online at



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