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5 Breathing Exercises for Seniors with Asthma

By Manpreet Dhalla, 9:00 am on

Asthma is difficult to diagnose in older adults, and it can also be dangerous when left untreated. This respiratory disorder often results in acute asthma attacks, lung infections, heart murmurs, and sleep apnea. Seniors can learn a handful of breathing exercises that may reduce their risk of asthma attacks, expand their airways, and strengthen their lungs. 

1. Buteyko Breathing

Much like meditation, the goal of Buteyko breathing is to relax and calm the mind. Most Buteyko experts suggest carrying out these exercises in a quiet and comfortable area such as a study or bedroom. Sitting in an upright chair, your loved one should begin by slowly inhaling through the nose in short bursts and keep exhaling until he or she feels as if all of the air is out of the lungs. 

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2. Progressive Relaxation

Many body parts can affect breathing, including all of the major muscle groups. Tensed muscles are filled with oxygen-rich blood, and they can put pressure on the stomach and lungs as well. Progressive relaxation helps asthmatics regain control of their breathing by relaxing their muscles. Your loved one can perform this exercise by lying down in bed or on a cushioned yoga mat and flexing each major muscle group for around 30 seconds at a time. During this exercise, your loved one should focus on inhaling and exhaling through the nose at a slow and steady pace. 

3. Yoga

A study funded by the American College of Sports Medicine found weekly yoga sessions can reduce an asthmatic’s use of rescue inhalers by as much as 43 percent. Many gyms and senior centers offer yoga classes specifically for older adults who would like to enjoy the many benefits of low-impact training programs. In addition to increasing lung strength, these classes can also lower blood pressure and reduce stress levels. Asthmatic seniors should first speak with a doctor before starting any new exercise program. 

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4. Diaphragmatic Breathing

During diaphragmatic breathing sessions, your loved one should try to exhale all the air out of the chest by flexing the diaphragm. These exercises can be done in a chair or bed, and your loved one’s spine should be as straight as possible. If your loved one is doing these exercises correctly, he or she should be exhaling almost twice as long as inhaling. The chest should be kept as still as possible so the stomach does most of the work. 

5. The Papworth Method

Asthma can be caused by different issues, including breathing through the mouth and subconsciously taking rapid breaths. Seniors who have mild asthma can retrain themselves to take longer breaths through their nose with the Papworth method. This type of exercise is almost identical to diaphragmatic breathing, but your loved one will inhale for a slightly longer period. Some people also carry out these exercises while walking or doing yoga.

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