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Belly-Breathing (Diaphragmatic Breathing)

Overview

Breathing with your diaphragm helps your lungs expand so that they take in more air. Your diaphragm is the large muscle that separates your lungs from your belly. It helps draw air into your lungs as you breathe.

This method may be called diaphragmatic breathing (belly breathing).

Practice this breathing method for about 10 minutes at a time, 3 or 4 times a day. As you get more comfortable doing this breathing exercise, you can also do it to feel better when you are short of breath.

Belly breathing, showing positions of hands on chest and stomach.
  1. Lie on your back, or prop yourself up on several pillows.
  2. Put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.
  3. When you breathe in, push your belly out as far as possible.

    You should feel the hand on your belly move out, while the hand on your chest does not move.

  4. When you breathe out, you should feel the hand on your belly move in.

When you can do this type of breathing well while lying down, learn to do it while sitting or standing.

Credits

Current as of: March 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
David Messenger MD - Emergency Medicine, Critical Care Medicine

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