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5 Easy Exercises to Increase Lung Capacity

Team AckoJan 17, 2024

Breathing seems natural and straightforward. However, the way you breathe is essential. Breathing correctly can increase your air intake, so your body gets the oxygen it needs. Practising a breathing exercise for lungs can help you improve the way you breathe and your lung capacity.




What Is Lung Capacity?

Lung capacity is the volume of air that your lungs can contain. For healthy lungs, breathing often comes naturally, and you breathe a good amount of air. However, as you get older, your lung function reduces, as you cannot breathe as easily as before. It leads to reduced lung capacity or less volume of air inhaled, which means less oxygen for your body. 

Why Is Good Breathing Important?

When you breathe right, the diaphragm does a large part of the work to fill your lungs. However, when you are not breathing right, stale air builds up, giving less space for the diaphragm to contract and inhale more oxygen. When the diaphragm is not functioning at total capacity, your body begins to exert other muscles like the neck, back, and chest for breathing. This leads to reduced lung capacity and less oxygen for your body's activities. 

Certain conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can further affect your lung function and capacity. These conditions can make it difficult for you to breathe and cause shortness of breath. 

Why Do You Need Exercises to Increase It?

Doing a breathing exercise for lungs can help you breathe better and allow you to sustain and improve your lung capacity. This keeps your lungs healthy and ensures that your body can take in the oxygen needed to function well.

Breathing exercises can help your lungs:

  • Exhale stale air that builds up

  • Increase the levels of oxygen 

  • Help the diaphragm to work better, so you breathe better

5 Easy Exercises to Increase Lung Capacity 

Here are five easy breathing exercises that will help you increase your lung capacity: 

1. Diaphragmatic Breathing or Belly Breathing 

The diaphragm is the arc-shaped muscle below your lungs. When practising diaphragmatic breathing, you learn to inhale using your diaphragm muscle instead of your chest. This helps make your diaphragm muscle stronger, and you naturally breathe better.  

The steps to practice this exercise for lungs are:

  • Lie on your back with knees bent or sit straight and cross-legged 

  • Keep a cushion or a pillow beneath your knees 

  • You can also sit on a chair

  • Place a hand on the upper part of your chest 

  • Place the other hand flat on the stomach

  • Inhale slowly through the nose 

  • The lower hand on the stomach should move up, and the upper hand on the chest should stay still 

  • Exhale slowly through your mouth 

  • The goal should be to practise this exercise till you can inhale and exhale with your chest staying still

2. Nasal Breathing 

Mouth breathing can be a problem if you do it all the time. Tiny hairs filter out contaminants like dust and pollutants when you breathe through your nose. Not only does mouth breathing risks allowing debris to enter, but it also interrupts the natural flow of air to your lungs. Breathing through your nose also brings in more warmth and humidity, reducing the risk of allergies and asthma symptoms. 

3. Paced Breathing

This exercise for lungs helps you practice how often you breathe and the pace at which you breathe. Stress and anxiety can affect the way you breathe. They can make you shorten your breath or quicken the rate at which you breathe. By regulating how often you breathe and how quickly, you can ensure that you breathe right. This can also help your body relax, reduce stress, and help you calm down. 

To practise the exercise, you control how much time you spend breathing in and breathing out. The goal is to ensure that the exhale is the same length or longer than the inhale. Depending on what kind of paced breathing you do, there are different breathing counts.

Here's how to practice paced breathing exercise for the lungs with two counts: 

  • Exhale until the air leaves your lungs

  • Breathe in for four counts until your lungs fill up completely

  • Hold your breath for four counts 

  • Breathe out four counts until the air leaves your lungs

4. Buteyko Breathing

Buteyko breathing is a specialised kind of breathing method. Konstantin Buteyko, a Ukrainian doctor, developed it. This kind of breathing aims to help you slow down your breathing and breathe more slowly and steadily. The reason is that people can often breathe much quicker than it's healthy. When people breathe very quickly, it is called hyperventilating. This may be due to stress or habit. If it happens continuously, it can affect your body functioning as you take in less oxygen than is healthy for you. 

The steps to practice Buteyko breathing are:

  • Breathe naturally for some minutes

  • After an exhale, pinch your nose using your thumb and index finger 

  • Hold your breath till your body pushes you to breathe 

  • Breathe regularly for around 10 seconds 

  • Repeat this many times 

5. Pursed Lip Breathing

This is the most straightforward kind of breathing exercise for lungs. It brings your focus to how you breathe. By ensuring you breathe the right way, you can release any air that remains in your lungs. This helps keep your breathing pathways open for more time. It allows you to breathe more easily and comfortably. 

Here are the steps to do pursed lip breathing:

  • Take a long breath through your nose, making sure you breathe slowly

  • Purse your lips so that they make a small 'O' shape like blowing out a candle 

  • Exhale slowly through the mouth so that all the air leaves 

This can be done whenever you feel like you are not breathing correctly or if you are feeling short of air. Practising this can improve the way you breathe.


Breathing exercises for lungs can make a big difference in the way you breathe. They ensure that you are not just breathing but breathing right. This helps you to breathe in a way that puts less strain on your body. It also allows your lungs to take in more oxygen and exhale better, improving your lung capacity. 


Can Lung Capacity Increase With Breathing Exercises?


Yes, breathing exercise for lungs can help teach your body to start breathing better. As you breathe better, your lungs can exhale more and function better. This increases the capacity of your lungs.

What Is the Papworth Method of Breathing?


The Papworth method combines different kinds of breathing with relaxation techniques. Practising this exercise for lungs helps you to breathe through your nose and use your diaphragm. It also enables you to relax and reduce stress, which helps improve your breathing.

How Does Mouth Breathing Affect You?


 If you breathe through your mouth, you risk developing disorders like sleep apnea and snoring. In sleep apnea, your breathing starts and stops while you are sleeping. This can cause you to wake up because you cannot breathe properly. Mouth breathing can also allow contaminants and other particles to enter when you breathe.

Why Does Pursed Lip Breathing Help?


When you breathe out through pursed lips, the outflow of air is controlled so that the air is released slowly and steadily. It helps your body to practise exhaling in this manner so that the exhale is longer than the inhale. This allows all the remaining air to be released so that stale air does not build up. It also ensures more space for freshness to come in when you inhale.

For How Long Should You Practice Breathing Exercises?


Breathing exercise for lungs can help improve your breathing if you practice them regularly. You can practice these exercises for about 5-10 every day. However, it would depend on the condition of your breathing. If you are facing breathing difficulty, you may need to do it twice daily to help regulate your breathing.

Is There Another Way to Increase Lung Capacity?


Physical exercise can help improve your lung capacity. However, avoid strenuous activity if you have breathing problems like shortness of breath. Avoiding smoking can also help preserve your lung capacity and allow it to improve.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on several secondary sources on the internet. As this content piece is not vetted by a medical professional, please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.







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