Belly breathing, also called diaphragmatic breathing, is a breathing technique that helps individuals living with asthma or COPD when they experience shortness of breath.

This technique helps to slow down your breathing so you can catch your breath and use less energy to breathe.

When you feel short of breath, belly breathing helps get more oxygen into your lungs and calms you down so you can better control your breath.

To practice belly breathing, sit down in a comfortable chair, sit up straight and put your hands on your belly or if it’s more comfortable you can lay down.

Close your mouth and take a slow, deep breath in through your nose.

When you breathe in, you want your belly to fill with air and get bigger like a balloon.

Blow all of the air out slowly and gently through pursed lips as if you were blowing bubbles.

Concentrate on your breathing as you continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.

Repeat belly breathing for five to ten minutes and relax.

Just remember to keep your hands on your belly, as it helps you to concentrate on the air going in and out.

The more you practice, the easier it will be to calm down and breathe more freely.

If you continue to be short of breath, call 911 and seek immediate medical attention.

For more breathing techniques and information on living with COPD, asthma, and other lung diseases visit the American Lung Association’s website at

Learn how to use belly breathing to help with shortness of breath from COPD, asthma or other lung diseases.

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Page last updated: March 27, 2023

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