Post covid breathing exercises for stronger lungs

Post covid breathing exercises for stronger lungs

For over a year now, the world has been in the grasp of COVID 19. The virus mainly attacks the respiratory system and can cause shortness of breath, fever, cough and a myriad of other symptoms. It transmits when people breathe in contaminated air consisting of droplets and small airborne viral particles from an infected person’s cough, sneeze, or breath. The risk for breathing these droplets is when people remain in close proximity with the infected person for more than 10-15 minutes. The general time for appearance of symptoms is 5 to 14 days. While the virus itself has been highly contagious, some people have also struggled with post covid complications. However, majority of people infected with Covid-19 will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and can recover without requiring special treatment.

The Covid 19 virus can infect the upper or lower part of the respiratory tract including lungs. The lining of the tract can become irritated and inflamed. Although in covid recovered patients symptoms subside, but it is necessary to restore general health in them because of the weakness and severity of infection. Therefore, it is advised to indulge in breathing exercises in addition to general fitness regime, after recovery under doctor’s guidance.

Benefits of Breathing Exercise

  • Deep breathing can restore diaphragm function and increase lung capacity by opening up the collased areas in lung especially bases as people have been lying down for long hors due to weakness.
  • It reduces anxiety and stress, which is common in people who has experienced severe symptoms or required to be admitted to Hospital. It takes off attention from constant negative thoughts.
  • Improvement in sleep quality is also noticed as muscles are relaxed after good exercise regime.

Some helpful Breathing Exercises for Patients in Post Covid Recovery

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Deep breathing restores the lung function by using the diaphragm. Generally done in four phases where an individual has to take deep breaths while lying on back, on stomach, in sitting position and in standing position. At each position deep breaths have to be taken for at least 1 minute and held there.


Humming is calming and soothing exercise to reduce stress as it helps patient to be in restoration mode. Steps for it are:

1. Sitting in upright position at edge of bed or at chair.
2. Placing hands on side of stomach.
3. With lip closed and tongue on roof of mouth, breathe through the nose and pull air down in the stomach.
4. Exhaling while humming “hmmm” sound.
5. Repeating it for one minute.

Yawn To Smile

This exercise is recommended as it helps in opening up the chest to give diaphragm a space to expand. It also helps to improve the coordination between the arms and shoulder. Steps for it can be:

1. Sitting in an upright position at edge of bed or at chair
2. Placing arms overhead and creating big stretching yawn
3. Bringing both the arms down and finishing it by smiling for three or more seconds
4. Repeating it for 1 minute

Balloon Exercise

If permitted by your doctor, a patient in post covid recovery phase can practice inflating a balloon in a day. This exercise allows the lung to inhale more oxygen and exhale the carbon dioxide. This increases oxygen supply to body, the person can experience significant decrease in fatigue and breathlessness.

To conclude, due to damage caused by the virus to the lungs, these exercises can be beneficial to those who have recovered but under the guidance of a Doctor.

Yoga and Pranayam

Yoga and Pranayam is very good for general health of lungs and post COVID it can create magic to get you back to your previous health quicker. Take the help of professional instructor to learn them and put them into your daily routine.

Dr Viny Kantroo

Senior Consultant, Pulmonology and Respiratory Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi