Beginner’s Guide to Breathing Techniques after COVID

The aftermath of a COVID-19 infection can linger for weeks or even months, leaving some individuals struggling with reduced lung capacity and breathlessness. Proper breathing techniques can be a lifeline during recovery, helping improve lung function, oxygenate the blood more efficiently, and reduce feelings of anxiety. This guide provides basic and introductory exercises for those starting their post-COVID recovery journey.

1. Diaphragmatic Breathing (Belly Breathing)

How to:

  • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
  • Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen.
  • Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your diaphragm to expand, making your abdomen rise (the hand on your chest should remain still).
  • Exhale slowly and controlled through pursed lips.
  • Repeat for 5-10 minutes.

Benefits: Strengthens the diaphragm, decreases the work of breathing, and helps in efficient oxygen exchange.

2. Pursed Lip Breathing

How to:

  • Sit comfortably with your back straight.
  • Inhale slowly through your nose for a count of two.
  • Pucker or “purse” your lips, as if blowing out a candle.
  • Exhale through your pursed lips for a count of four.
  • Repeat for 5-10 minutes.

Benefits: Reduces the number of breaths, keeps the airways open longer, improves oxygenation, and can help to release trapped air in the lungs.

3. Box Breathing (4-4-4-4 Technique)

How to:

  • Sit in a relaxed position.
  • Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose for a count of four.
  • Hold your breath for a count of four.
  • Exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of four.
  • Pause and hold for another count of four.
  • Repeat for several cycles.

Benefits: Enhances concentration, reduces stress, and aids in oxygenation.

4. Rib Stretch

How to:

  • Stand upright and exhale all the air from your lungs.
  • Slowly inhale, expanding your lungs to their maximum capacity.
  • Hold for a few seconds.
  • Exhale slowly and completely.
  • Repeat for 3-5 times.

Benefits: Increases lung capacity and stretches the intercostal muscles (muscles between the ribs).

5. Guided Breathing with Meditation Apps

There are several apps available, such as Calm, Headspace, or Breethe, which offer guided breathing exercises. These can be particularly beneficial for those new to focused breathing techniques.

Tips for Success:

  • Start Slowly: If you’re new to breathing exercises, start with just a few minutes a day and gradually increase.
  • Consistency is Key: For best results, make these exercises a part of your daily routine.
  • Stay Relaxed: Ensure you’re in a comfortable position, whether sitting or lying down, to get the maximum benefit.
  • Consult a Professional: Before starting any new exercise regimen, especially post-COVID, consult with a healthcare provider to ensure it’s safe for you.


Breathing exercises, while simple, can be incredibly effective in aiding the recovery process after a COVID-19 infection. They not only help improve lung function but can also provide a calming and meditative break in our often hectic lives. As you embark on your recovery journey, take it one breath at a time.

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