4 Breathing Exercises for Pulmonary Fibrosis


Breathing exercises are important for pulmonary fibrosis patients as they help to better control breathing if they experience a sudden shortness of breath, strengthen their diaphragm and clear excess mucus.

Here are four breathing exercises that may benefit people with pulmonary fibrosis, using information from the Lung Institute and livestrong.com.

Pursed Lip Breathing

Breathing through pursed lips helps to open the airways and make breathing easier. This is useful when experiencing shortness of breath and can also be used as a relaxation aid.

Pursed lips breathing can be done standing, sitting or lying down and begins by relaxing the necks and shoulders. Patients then need to close their mouths and gently inhale through their nose slowly for two seconds. Then with pursed lips breath out slowly for four seconds.

The technique can be repeated as many times as needed and the length of time taken to inhale and exhale may be extended.

MORE: Read our six tips for protecting your lungs. 

Ask questions and share your knowledge of PF in our forums.

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  1. Cindy Yergo says:

    I have beginning stages of COPD as well as having the upper two lobes of my left lung removed due to lung cancer. I find it extremely difficult to climb stairs, I lose my breath as well as overheating and extreme need to urinate. I need to know how to control this feeling of panic when I need to climb stairs especially since I live in an attic apartment which causes me a lot of stress when I know I need to go out. I’m looking for an exercise to help me reclaim my breath and calm the need to urinate and the increased sweating that comes along with it. Any advice is welcome since it is really affecting my quality of life. Thank you

  2. Honorie Anang says:

    Dear friend
    My advice to you is learn to pace yourself in everything that you do, regular breathing exercises and relaxation techniques. Also join exercise group with people with similar condition or COPD.
    Best wishes

    • honorie Anang says:

      urgency to urinate is associate with anxiety, try relaxation exercise most times counting one to 10 before you take any activities will help you relax and focus also practising breathing exercises.
      I hope this help

  3. Juliette zoghbi says:

    I have COPD I have problem in walking if the road is not flat as well with climbing the stairs I am doing some exercises and using dome inhaler but my still have a problem can you help me knowing that I am living in the middle east so far from your institute.

  4. I started using a breathing restrictor to strengthen my lungs, does anyone else use one , I have IPF and am presently on OFEV and exercise 5 to 6 times a week for about 1 hour each day. W9ill anyone post some of there daily routines as most of my information I get is off the internet. I also try to follow the Paleo diet, the diet and exercise routine I give credit ti the Bill Vick interview. I know there is research going on with mouse models to see how to stop IPF and even reverse it. It shure would be wonderful if a breakthrough would come and would eliminate this deadly disease. Thank you

    • John Bordu says:

      Hello John – Please tell us more about the breathing restrictor you are using. It appears the more we exercise our lungs by deep breathing including when we are in bed, the better the lungs can resist the fibrosis onslaught.

      I believe the research you are referring to is the work at Yale University Medical school. That one is very promising. It seems the researchers are focussed on getting patents before proceeding with human trials. The focus is the use of medication meant for Thyroid Hormone Therapy in an aerosolized form.
      Synthroid is a commonly used medication for Thyroid Hormone Therapy. You may want to check with your doctor to get their opinion. In principle, the tablets can be grinded and aerosolized.

  5. Mary Echberg says:

    Hi my IPF was diagnosed 2years & 6 months ago. I do think pushing yourself and deep breathing is important. I ride a bike 3 times a week (or more) for 12 km and focus on deep breathing and coughing. I also live in a house with 19 steps, which I hate – but pushes me every day. I’m a slow walker (once was very fast) but walk my two dogs most days – in the park opposite my home. For Cindy pelvic exercises could be a possibility. Cheers. Mary.

  6. Grace Olive Collins says:

    I have severe IPF
    I find gently rubbing my sternum for 5 to 10 seconds helps calm down my panic breathing

    • Don Riley says:

      I have been on esbriet for almost 3 years now. The only side effect I have is nausea if taken without food. It has really helped me. I was diagnosed in 2012. Started taking clinical trials, and beginning another one shortly. I take 1, 801 mg 3 times a day.

    • Anne Erwin says:

      Hi Nick,
      I too have IPF and started taking Esbriet since August of 2018. The Esbriet does bother my stomach and causes heartburn. I am on medication for heartburn, but need a stronger dosage.
      There are several side effects-nausea, tiredness, loss of taste buds( no food tastes good anymore), sensitivity to sun, and headaches.
      I am continuing the medication because I am hoping to slow down the progression of the disease, but I hate taking it.
      I have been looking online to find breathing exercises that might help me when I cough and become out of breath. The exercises I am doing seem to help.
      I also work with a nurse from the company that makes Esbriet. She has been very helpful and informative about the disease itself. I hope you do not get discouraged. It’s important to take whatever medication is available and to do research to learn about the disease and how you can help yourself. Eat well and EXERCISE, exercise really does help.
      Good Luck,
      Anne Erwin

    • Stanley Schwarz says:

      Esberit , saved me prior to my lung transplant. It stops the progression of IPF ,that I had in both lungs.I had no side effects and with out it I would have died before my transplant, it’s been 14 months now.

      • M.J. says:

        Stanley, how old were you when you had your transplant? How long were you on a waiting list and do you happen to know what your LAS score was prior to receiving the lung(s)? I hope you are doing well now.

  7. Charles Mumman says:

    I have had IPF since I was diagnosed in 2013. I have been taking OFEV 150 mg for the past 6 years, 2 per day. I exercise three to four times a week playing racquetball. My prognoses has been steady, but I am slowly losing breathing volume. I have ways to not get stomach pains but I must take imodium 2-4 tablets a day. I would be happy to help anyone with information.

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