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A Healthier Lifestyle: Diaphragmatic Breathing

Updated: Oct 5, 2022



A number of studies have shown that diaphragmatic breathing can benefit both mental and physical health, as well as activate body relaxation responses.

What is diaphragmatic breathing?

Diaphragmatic breathing is a type of breathing exercise that helps strengthen your diaphragm, an important muscle that helps you breathe as it represents 80% of breathing. This breathing exercise is also known as abdominal breathing or belly breathing.

Diaphragmatic breathing involves contraction of the diaphragm, expansion of the belly, and deepening of inhalation and exhalation, which consequently decreases the respiration frequency and maximizes the amount of blood gases.

What does diaphragmatic breathing do?

This particular technique is known to improve the efficiency of ventilation, which decreases the work of breathing, increases the excursion of the diaphragm, and improves gas exchange and oxygenation.

Diaphragmatic breathing can also soothe the symptoms of several conditions that can affect how you breathe, including: anxiety, COPD, stress and asthma.

Although diaphragmatic breathing is a useful technique, it should be alongside other treatments recommended to you. Our healthcare experts are well-versed in a variety of fields, so do make sure to book a consultation to receive the best guidance for what treatments can aid with your conditions.

The list of benefits includes:

  • Improving respiratory capacity

  • Improving muscle function during exercise

  • Reducing blood pressure

  • Reducing heart rate

  • Helping cope with symptoms of PTSD

  • Helping you relax, lowering the harmful effect of cortisol on your body

How can I do this?

  1. Sit or lie in a comfortable place.

  2. Place a hand on your chest and a hand on your abdomen. The bottom hand should do the moving. The top hand will eiher remain still or move as the bottom hand moves.

  3. Inhale through your nose for about 4 seconds, feeling your abdomen expand.

  4. Hold your breath for 2 seconds.

  5. Exhale slowly and steadily through your mouth for about 6 seconds. The mouth should be relaxed.

  6. Repeat for 5-15 minutes.

It is common to feel some uneasiness or lightheadedness when you are first practising this technique. If you feel light headed, quicken your breath. After a session of diaphragmatic breathing, allow yourself time to adjust to your surroundings — do not stand up too quickly.

How often can I do this?

It can be good practise to try this exercise for five to 10 minutes, about three to four times per day.

Over time, you can increase the amount of time you spend doing this exercise until you reach a point you are comfortable with.

How do I know if this is right for me?

If you have a condition like COPD, asthma or anxiety, book in with us to chat about diaphragmatic breathing to see if it’s right for you, and what other techniques and treatments our experts can recommend.


How can I book?

If you would like to find out more, you can email info@myspecialistgp.co.uk, and our admin team will book you in for a consultation.

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