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Lung Exercise for Long COVID Patients Explained

Have you or someone you know had lingering respiratory symptoms after recovering from COVID-19? It might be Long COVID.

In this article, we’ll talk about why lung exercise is essential for Long COVID patients. Lung exercises can boost lung function and overall well-being.

Let’s see how specific exercises can help in your recovery.

Improve lung function

Breathing exercises, such as deep breathing techniques, help improve lung function and increase lung capacity for those recovering from long covid or post-covid symptoms. These exercises reduce fatigue, boost exercise capacity, and improve overall quality of life.

When doing breathing exercises, it’s important to watch for symptoms like shortness of breath, adjust exercise intensity as needed, and consult a doctor if discomfort increases. Resources like the clinics at Johns Hopkins provide support and guidance on breathing exercises for COVID-19 recovery.

Rehabilitation efforts, including breathing exercises and physical training, significantly enhance outcomes such as quality of life, shortness of breath, and exercise capacity for individuals with long covid or post-covid conditions. By incorporating breathing exercises into daily routines, optimal recovery and well-being can be achieved.

Benefits of Breathing Exercises


Before starting breathing exercises, it’s important to take precautions for safety and effectiveness. Specific guidelines should be followed, especially for individuals with long COVID or post-COVID conditions. To minimize the risk of injury or discomfort:

Focus on proper technique.

Listen to your body’s cues.

Pay attention to symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, and joint pain. Adjust the intensity and duration of exercises based on individual needs to improve outcomes.

Incorporate breathing techniques like diaphragmatic breathing, Humming, and Yawn to a Smile for added benefits, such as reducing stress and anxiety.

Regular practice of these exercises under healthcare professionals’ guidance can lead to improved recovery and overall well-being.

Diaphragmatic Breathing (Belly Breathing)

Phase 1: Deep Breathing While On Your Back

  • Lie flat on your back with your knees bent, place your hands on your belly.

  • Focus on engaging the diaphragm, a key muscle for breathing.

  • In order to engage your diaphragm, breathe in gently through your nose and have your belly rise underneath your hands. Imagine your belly as a big balloon which is inflating as you breath in

  • Then breath out through you mouth, and your belly goes down or “deflates” underneath your hands

  • Repeat this pattern of relaxed/soft belly breathing for a few minutes

  • Deep breathing on your back improves lung function and capacity.

  • It can reduce stress, enhance mood, and decrease fatigue symptoms in long Covid or post-Covid conditions.

  • Deep breathing techniques boost oxygen flow to the brain and tissues, aiding recovery and well-being.

  • Daily deep breathing exercises can strengthen the diaphragm, improve taste and smell, and reduce shortness of breath.

  • This phase is foundational for rehabilitating long Covid patients, enhancing exercise capacity and quality of life with breathing exercises.

Phase 2: Deep Breathing While on Your Tummy

Phase 2 of deep breathing exercises whilst lying on your tummy involves expanding the diaphragm and rib cage. This aims to improve lung capacity and function. It strengthens respiratory muscles and boosts oxygen flow in the body.

Tummy breathing, compared to back breathing, allows for more lower lung expansion. This can aid in clearing mucus and enhancing air circulation.

Incorporating tummy deep breathing into your routine can benefit individuals with long COVID or post-COVID conditions. It can reduce fatigue, shortness of breath, and enhance exercise capacity. This technique supports lung function and overall respiratory health, promoting a better quality of life.

It’s a vital component of therapy for COVID-19 recovery, focusing on physical and mental well-being.

Phase 3: Deep Breathing While Sitting

Deep breathing while sitting can greatly benefit your health in many ways. It can improve lung function, reduce stress, and increase lung capacity. This is especially helpful for individuals with long COVID or post-COVID conditions.

Rehabilitation interventions that include deep breathing exercises are important. They can enhance exercise capacity and quality of life for those experiencing symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, and brain fog.

Techniques like diaphragmatic breathing, Yawn to a Smile, and Humming while sitting can be helpful. They allow individuals to adapt breathing techniques to daily life, aiding in recovery and reducing anxiety.

These exercises promote neuroplasticity, muscle strength, and mental health. This can lead to better outcomes in post-injury or post-illness rehabilitation.

Incorporating deep breathing into your daily routine can proactively address respiratory issues, joint pain, and mood disturbances. This can ultimately improve your overall health and well-being through simple yet effective seated breathing exercises.

Phase 4: Deep Breathing While Standing

Deep breathing while standing can improve overall health and well-being in many ways:

  • Enhances lung function.

  • Reduces stress.

  • Increases oxygen flow in the body.

Rehabilitation interventions, like deep breathing exercises, can help individuals with long Covid or post-Covid symptoms:

  • Combat fatigue.

  • Improve taste and smell.

  • Manage symptoms like brain fog and shortness of breath.

Practicing techniques like diaphragmatic breathing and humming while standing can help increase lung capacity and promote relaxation.

These exercises contribute to:

  • Improved functional exercise capacity.

  • Better quality of life for Covid-19 recovery.

  • Reducing joint pain.

  • Strengthening muscles.

  • Boosting mental health.

Incorporating deep breathing into daily life can lead to better adaptation, recovery, and enhanced overall well-being compared to usual care practices.

Yawn to a Smile

Transitioning from a yawn to a smile involves a simple breathing technique.

This technique combines motion and deep breathing.

Start with a yawn to stretch the diaphragm and open up the lungs.

Then, transition into a smile while taking deep breaths.

This exercise engages the diaphragm, promotes deep breathing, and involves facial muscle movement.

This holistic approach improves lung function and capacity.

“Yawn to a Smile” benefits individuals recovering from long Covid or other respiratory illnesses.

It enhances lung function, reduces shortness of breath, and lessens fatigue.

Deep breathing and facial muscle engagement also help reduce stress, anxiety, and improve mood.


Humming can positively impact breathing techniques. It promotes relaxation and creates a steady airflow, which is beneficial for individuals with long covid or post-covid symptoms.

Incorporating humming into a daily routine can lead to improved lung function, reduced stress, and enhanced mood. It also helps strengthen the diaphragm and respiratory muscles, promoting better respiratory health.

This simple exercise of humming as you breath out can be valuable in therapy sessions focusing on fatigue, dyspnea, and quality of life outcomes. Humming engages the brain, helping individuals adapt to shortness of breath, improve exercise capacity, and reduce brain fog.

Humming exercises are gentle and can be part of daily life to enhance taste and smell, supporting recovery from covid-19-related symptoms.

COVID-19 Rehabilitation Resources

Breathing exercises have many benefits for health. They can improve lung function, increase lung capacity, reduce stress, and help with recovery from conditions like long COVID.

Deep breathing and diaphragmatic breathing are two types of exercises that can help. They can combat symptoms like shortness of breath and improve functional exercise capacity. Adding movement to these exercises, like Yawn to a Smile and Humming, can further support recovery and rehabilitation.

For COVID-19 rehabilitation, resources such as clinics at places like Johns Hopkins offer support and guidance on breathing techniques and therapy for post-COVID symptoms. These resources are important in helping individuals manage fatigue, joint pain, brain fog, and other lingering symptoms through rehabilitation.

Recent news articles and studies have shown promising results. A systematic review and meta-analysis in JAMA Network Open highlighted the effectiveness of rehabilitation interventions, especially those involving breathing exercises, in improving functional exercise capacity, difficulty breathing, and quality of life for patients with long COVID or post-COVID conditions. These findings underscore the importance of evidence-based rehabilitation interventions for those affected by COVID-19.

Try these four breathing exercises:

Trying these four breathing exercises can provide various benefits for individuals undergoing COVID-19 rehabilitation.

Engaging in deep breathing techniques like diaphragmatic breathing can improve lung function and increase lung capacity for recovery.

These exercises also help reduce stress, fatigue, and anxiety commonly linked to post-COVID symptoms.

Incorporating motion with deep breathing, such as in exercises like Yawn to a Smile and Humming, can assist in physical therapy and occupational rehabilitation by strengthening muscle function.

Furthermore, these exercises aid in enhancing mood, sense of taste and smell, and overall quality of life.

During these exercises, individuals should be cautious of worsening shortness of breath or joint pain as crucial outcome measures to monitor during rehabilitation.

Regularly practicing these exercises with proper guidance can help individuals improve their functional exercise capacity and overall well-being in the post-COVID recovery process.

What are the benefits of lung exercises for long COVID patients?

Lung exercises can help improve breathing, increase lung capacity, and reduce shortness of breath for long COVID patients. Examples include diaphragmatic breathing, pursed lip breathing, and incentive spirometry.

How often should long COVID patients perform lung exercises?

Long COVID patients should perform lung exercises daily to improve lung function and capacity. Examples include deep breathing exercises, pursed lip breathing, and diaphragmatic breathing techniques.

Yes, deep breathing exercises, diaphragmatic breathing, and pursed lip breathing can help improve lung function in long COVID patients. These exercises can help increase lung capacity, improve oxygen flow, and reduce breathlessness.

Can lung exercises help improve lung function in long COVID patients?

Yes, lung exercises such as deep breathing exercises and diaphragmatic breathing can help improve lung function in long COVID patients by increasing lung capacity and promoting better oxygen exchange. Examples include pursed lip breathing, chest stretching, and respiratory muscle training.

Are there any precautions to consider when doing lung exercises as a long COVID patient?

Yes, long COVID patients should start slowly, monitor symptoms, avoid overexertion, and consult with a healthcare provider before beginning any new lung exercises. Examples of precautions include practicing deep breathing exercises, pacing activities, and avoiding exercises that cause shortness of breath.