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From bronchitis to COVID-19, anyone who has experienced a lung infection knows that the symptoms of coughing and shallow breathing often persist for weeks after recovering from the infection.  Those with long-hauler COVID may also experience excessive fatigue and overall physical weakness, making deep breathing even more difficult.  To regain energy levels and expand lung capacity, there are several lifestyle modifications that you can safety try on your own. Find one or several that feel doable and practice them daily, or even multiple times a day, to train your lungs to expand for fully and for longer once again.

  1. Breathing Exercises: Deep, diaphragmatic breathing exercises can increase lung capacity and strengthen your respiratory system.  In addition, it may reduce anxiety, depression, and anger!
    1. Option 1: 1:2 Slow Breathing: Inhale through your nose to the count of 1-3 and exhale through your nose to the count of 2-6.  The goal should be trying to have exhales be twice as long as inhales! Do as many rounds as possible.
    2. Pursed Lip Breathing: While sitting up, put your tongue behind your front teeth at the roof of your mouth.  Inhale through your nose slowly.  Purse your lips like you’re trying to whistle and exhale.  Do several rounds.
  2. Light Cardio: Going for a light walk can improve your lung capacity and energy levels!  Start with light aerobic exercises like walking or biking before gradually increasing the intensity to your ability.
  3. Yoga: Yoga helps relax the body and the mind which can help with fatigue, weakness, and anxiety induced by long-COVID symptoms. Start with restorative yoga practices and focus more on the breath work that perfect posess.
  4. Nutrition: Food plays an important role in regaining your strength and energy levels!  Focus on including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds into your diet to provide antioxidants and phytonutrients to aid with the recovery process.

Resources at St. Jude Wellness Center