Paced Breathing Exercises

By Kevin Blankinship

Paced breathing is a deeper, slower way of breathing. It involves filling the lungs to full capacity when inhaling and then pushing out as much air as possible when exhaling. In addition to getting more oxygen to the blood, this form of breathing has other added health benefits in the long term, such as lower blood pressure. Several exercises are available to practice paced breathing.

Basic Breathing

The most basic way to practice paced breathing is simply to be aware of the breaths you are taking so that you may then gradually let them become deeper to the point where your lungs are filled to capacity. When you breathe in, your abdomen should expand as well as your chest. Hold the deep breath for a second or two and then let it out slowly.

Qigong Slow Breathing

This is a method that comes from the Chinese discipline of Qigong, a series of health and wellness techniques based on breathing exercises and body positions. For paced breathing, a general slow breathing technique is to make one in-and-out breath last one minute. Inhale for 20 seconds, then pause and retain the breath for 20 seconds and finally let the breath out in a long exhalation lasting 20 seconds.


Hand movements and body positions can enhance paced breathing exercises. A simple exercise is to close your eyes while taking deep, paced breaths, slowed down to 20 seconds for inhalation, breathing retention and exhalation. Start with your hands touching, palms inward. As you inhale, draw your hands out to the side, and imagine you are holding a balloon that is expanding. Then exhale, drawing your hands back together, imagining that the balloon is shrinking back to the size you began with.

Squat Exercises

To get even more body movement or positioning into the paced breathing exercises, stand up and spread your feet to a little more than shoulder width apart. Then bend your knees deeply. As you breathe in, let your knees straighten some and raise yourself up. Then as you let your breath out, bend your knees and go back down to the level where you began. This movement can be combined with the "balloon" arm motions, too.

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