We often say – ‘let’s go and get a breath of fresh air’ as a way of becoming more alert, less stale and getting ready for another activity.
In these winter months regular deep breathing helps keep us free of coughs and colds and our airways clear. When we don’t move around a lot and become sedentary the respiratory system is not stretched and so we only use a very small proportion of our lung capacity.
In our neurological physiotherapy sessions we often work with people to teach them how to more effectively use their lungs to get better rib cage movement. This is especially important for people who have had spinal cord injuries who often have reduced respiratory capacity and are prone to chest infections.
When we take a really deep breath in and out we use more air than usual and this means that the stale air at the bottom of our lungs is moved and so more of our lung tissue becomes active. As we sit up straighter, away from the back of the chair then our body, the trunk or torso, becomes more active and the lungs less compressed by an inactive body.
Improving posture by sitting up as straight as you can helps to give the lungs more space to move in the chest and allow you to take an effective deeper breath. Concentrating on breathing out even further than you think you can will encourage a deeper breath in on the next in breath.
When practising deep breathing exercises it is important to only do around five deep breaths at a time. Doing too many will make you light headed so be cautious when you start and doing them with a family member or another person who is doing them at the same time will give you confidence.
Have a go!