The novel corona virus Covid-19 has already infected over 3 million people worldwide.  Although many people with Covid-19 develop no symptoms or only mild symptoms, a number of people develop severe respiratory illness (shortness of breath, shallow breathing, wheezing, chest tightness) with low oxygen flow in the lungs. 


Breathing exercises could improve oxygen flow in the lungs.  There are a range of benefits from doing breathing exercises.

  • It’s been shown to reduce how hard a person has to work to breathe.
  • It helps release air trapped in the lower lungs.
  • It reduces shortness of breath.       

There are two types of breathing exercises: Deep Chest breathing Exercises and Belly (Diaphragmatic) breathing exercises. Practicing these technique 4 to 5 times daily can improve low oxygen level especially in older adults with sedentary life style.  Deep Breathing exercises resemble regular breathing where with each inhalation the belly muscle falls inwards, and with exhalation the belly muscle move outwards. On the other hand, during Belly (Diaphragmatic) breathing exercises, the belly muscle doesn’t follow the motion of natural breathing. During Belly breathing exercise inhalation follows belly muscle moving outwards and with exhalation belly muscle felling inwards. At the beginning, Belly exercise might seem confusing and difficult, but with time  a person will not only improve oxygen level but also will improve motor coordination.  

One may ask why it is important to do Belly breathing exercise. It is important because when someone has respiratory distress or severe respiratory infection such as that caused by Covid-19, air often becomes trapped in the lungs and pushes down on the diaphragm. The neck and chest muscles work more during breathing and increase demand for oxygen. All of these leads the weakening of the diaphragm. Belly breathing exercise is important to perform during severe respiratory infection because it helps in:

  • Strengthens of the weak diaphragm,
  • Slows your breathing rate
  • Decreases oxygen demand in the body that is already difficult to meet during Covid-19 infection

How to perform Deep and Belly Breathing Exercise



  Deep Breathing Exercise

  • Sit or stand with your elbows slightly back. This allows your chest to expand more fully.
  • Inhale deeply through your nose.
  • Hold your breath as you count to 5.
  • Release the air via a slow, deep exhale, through your nose, until you feel all your inhaled air has been released.
  • Repeats breathing cycle 5 times


Belly (Diaphragmatic) breathing 

  •  Sit comfortably, with your knees bent and your shoulders, head and neck relaxed.
  • Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your stomach moves out against your hand
  • Tighten your stomach muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips.
  • Repeats breathing cycle 5 times



The Covid-19 virus is one we need to fight on all fronts. If infected, a patient must not surrender and fight with all of his or her might. These exercises may help in fending off the effects of severe respiratory infection. Share these simple and basic breathing exercises widely.







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