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Bronchitis Breathing Exercises

By Toby Pendergrass ; Updated August 14, 2017

Persistent coughing and difficulty breathing are common signs of bronchitis, a condition that arises when your lungs don’t receive enough air. Breathing exercises often provide relief from bronchitis and might reduce your risk of lung damage, reports Check with your doctor before taking any potential remedy that is said to cure breathing problems, especially if you have a heart condition.


Bronchitis occurs when the airways in your lungs, or bronchial tubes, become inflamed from a buildup of a thick fluid called mucus. The fluid clogs your airways and limits the air that passes into your lungs. Bronchitis often triggers chest tightness and coughing and hinders your ability to breathe properly. Your likelihood for bronchitis rises when you smoke or are exposed to dust or chemicals that irritate your lungs. Some people with chronic bronchitis suffer serious lung damage. Breathing exercises often relieve the symptoms of bronchitis and restore your ability to breathe easily.

Common Treatment

Your doctor might recommend a pursed-lip exercise when bronchitis causes you to breathe too quickly. The exercise is designed to slow your breathing rate and improve the amount of air that reaches your lungs. Start by taking a normal breath with your mouth closed and hold the breath for about two seconds. Pucker your lips as if you were preparing to give a kiss or whistle. Count to four and let the breath out slowly through your lips. Practice the exercise at least five times daily during a period of bronchitis, especially when engaging in activities like walking stairs or lifting heavy objects.

Functional Exercise

A diaphragmatic breathing exercise allows you to breathe properly with less energy and effort. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and place one hand on the top of your chest and the other beneath your ribs. Inhale slowly through your nose and keep the hand under your ribs completely still. Pucker, or purse your lips, and tighten the muscles in your stomach. Exhale slowly through your lips and keep the hand on your upper chest as idle as possible. Carve out at least three times daily to practice the exercise in segments of five to 10 minutes.

Expert Insight

Bronchitis breathing difficulties often worsen when you become stressed or excited, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Special breathing positions, when used to complement pursed-lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing, might lessen your discomfort. A typical position requires you to sit in a chair with your feet on the floor. Lean forward a few inches and rest your chin on your hands. Ensure that the muscles in your shoulder and neck are relaxed. Maintain the position until you feel relaxed and normal breathing resumes.


Avoid the need for breathing exercises and potentially lung cancer by quitting smoking, the most common cause of bronchitis. Alert your doctor if bronchitis prevents you from sleeping or persists longer than three weeks. Coughing that accompanies fever might signal pneumonia.

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