6 Crucial Breathing Exercises for a COVID Survivor to Increase Lung Capacity


Medically reviewed by

Bajaj Finserv Health


5 min read

Key Takeaways

  • Balloon breathing exercise for COVID survivors works on intercostal muscles
  • Different blowing exercises for lungs improve the oxygenation process
  • Following the ACBT process helps to clear accumulated mucus from lungs

The COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus, has created havoc globally. While it spreads through saliva droplets and nasal secretions, this virus invades our body through the eyes, nose and mouth. In fact, studies have revealed the possibility of airborne transmission in crowded areas or in places with poor ventilation. In such cases, people contracted the infection even without contact with an infected person. As per COVID-19 recovery data, more than 3 crore patients have recovered from this infection till date in India. While following proper protocols can protect you from COVID-19, it is equally important to take care of your health during the covid-19 recovery phase to ensure you stay fit and fine. After all, it is now a known fact that coronavirus attacks your lungs and respiratory system. This can eventually lead to severe respiratory complications like pneumonia. It takes some time for the lungs to recover completely, so take proper care for better health. Apart from consuming a healthy diet to regain your lost strength, do breathing exercises in order to increase your lung capacity.

Here are some simple breathing exercises for a COVID survivor that can minimize fatigue and breathlessness. These recommended exercises for a COVID survivor also help enhance the ability of your lungs to maintain a sufficient supply of oxygen.

Additional readTips for COVID-19 Care with Existing Medical Conditionsexercises for covid survivor

Try the balloon breathing exercise for COVID survivors to promote lung capacity 

This is one of the easiest blowing exercises for lungs that can be tried by COVID survivors. The balloon exercise for lungs is done by blowing a certain number of balloons daily. Blowing balloons is an effective technique as it works on your intercostal muscles. These muscles run in between your ribs and help elevate your ribcage and diaphragm. Consequently, your lungs are able to take in more oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. This improves your breathing capacity and makes you feel less tired.

Practice pranayama to improve lung functioning 

Pranayama is a simple breathing exercise for COVID survivors, which involves breathing from alternate nostrils. There are different pranayama yoga techniques like Anulom vilom, Ujjayi pranayama, and Bhramari pranayama to name a few. To perform the first one, close your right nostril with your thumb and breathe through the left one. Then close the left nostril and release the right nostril for a proper exhale. Keep your left nostril closed and inhale through the right. Finally, close both the nostrils and hold the breath. To complete the exercise, release the left one with a proper exhale. Practicing pranayama boosts your immune system apart from rejuvenating your body and mind. This is one of the best exercises for a COVID survivor as it helps keep your lungs healthy.

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Do a self-awake proning exercise to regain your strength 

Proning refers to lying in a face down position or lying on your stomach. This position improves the breathing and oxygenation process [4]. This is yet another effective exercise for those who are recovering from COVID-19, especially for those who experience discomfort in breathing. While doing self-proning, use 4-5 pillows by placing one below your neck, two below your chest and the other two below your shins. To start, lie on your belly for 30 minutes, followed by lying on your right side for another 30 minutes. Then, change to a sitting up position for another 30 minutes. Afterwards, lie on the left side for 30 minutes and finally, get back to your starting position, lying on your belly. Avoid proning immediately after meals.

Follow ACBT to clear the mucus from your lungs 

Post COVID, your lungs may produce more sputum that needs to be cleared off for easy breathing. For such situations, ACBT or Active Cycle of Breathing Techniques can be practiced under the guidance of a physiotherapist. These exercises help eliminate excess mucus from lungs by the process of loosening the mucus and coughing it out. ACBT is done in three phases. While the first phase helps relax your airways, the second one eliminates accumulated mucus. In the third phase, this mucus is forced out of your lungs by coughing [6].

Strengthen your lung capacity with straw exercises 

Straw breathing exercises can be done with ease. All you need to do is place a straw in your mouth and breathe in through it for 3-4 seconds. This is somewhat similar to how you sip water using a straw. Then, slowly breathe out through your nose and relax. Finally, exhale through your straw just like you would to create bubbles. Perform this for 3-4 seconds and relax. Doing this exercise forces your body to use the diaphragm that gives your lungs much-needed power.

Use a spirometer to enable lungs to inflate to their maximum capacity 

This is another chest exercise done by using a spirometer to enhance the functioning of your lungs. The spirometer needs to be placed in the mouth with your lips closed tightly around it. As you inhale slowly through the device, try raising the indicator to the required mark. When you are unable to breathe, remove the spirometer and for 3 seconds try holding your breath. Finally, exhale after 3 seconds. Log your levels on a daily basis for doctors to determine if your breathing capacity has improved.

Following these blowing exercises for lungs not only enhances your breathing capacity, but also improves your energy levels. Most of these breathing exercises form an important part of yoga, which also calms your mind and reduces stress and anxiety. All these are essential during the post-COVID recovery phase.

If you face even mild discomfort while breathing, connect with specialists on Bajaj Finserv Health. Book an in-person appointment or a tele-consult to ensure your COVID-19 recovery is smooth.

Published on 24 Aug 2021Last updated on 1 Aug 2022
  1. https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/transmission-of-sars-cov-2-implications-for-infection-prevention-precautions
  2. https://www.mygov.in/covid-19
  3. https://www.artofliving.org/in-en/yoga/breathing-techniques/follow-breath-fly-high
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7775938/
  5. https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/COVID19ProningforSelfcare3.pdf
  6. https://www.cff.org/Life-With-CF/Treatments-and-Therapies/Airway-Clearance/Active-Cycle-of-Breathing-Technique/

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.


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