Resist coronavirus with breathing exercises


Breathing exercises, according to the expert, are especially useful for the elderly, the smokers, and the obese. Strong respiratory muscles can help coping better with coronavirus disease, especially those in high-risk groups. Symptoms may be milder, intensive care may be avoided, and recovery may be faster.

Inhaling warm water vapor, in turn, helps keeping the mucous membranes in upper respiratory tract in good condition, which promotes their defense mechanisms against viruses.

Breathing exercises can be done at home with a counter-pressure breathing device such as the Finnish WellO2. You can buy one at a pharmacy, for example. The resistance in the device makes inhaling and exhaling more strenuous than normal. This strengthens the respiratory muscles.

“All parts of the lungs will also be used more efficiently, says Ansi Sovijärvi” Professor Emeritus of Clinical Physiology at the University of Helsinki.

You should start exercising with a low resistance.

“The exercise opens collapsed alveoli, says Kari Nieminen” Chief Physician of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care at Mikkeli Central Hospital.

Also, exhausting exercise improves the respiratory muscles. Taina Taskinen, a specialist in occupational health care and general medicine, says that singing is also a breathing exercise.

Experts also speak in favor of warm vapor inhalation. Sovijärvi presents an experimental study according to which the half-life of the Sars-CoV-2 virus in nasal mucosal secretions was reduced when the mucosal temperature and humidity were slightly increased. Warm vapor inhalation is a feature which is provided only by the counter-pressure respirator WellO2.

If the respiratory muscles have been trained in advance, they will fatigue more slowly and withstand stress better. With good respiratory musculature, one can avoid hospitalization and need for the intensive care, Sovijärvi says and refers to the review article published in the American Journal of Medicine in autumn.

The study found that even five days of breathing exercises can exert beneficial effects.

“10-20 breaths back and forth in the morning and the same in the evening. In six weeks, we will certainly have very good effects” Sovijärvi says.

Specialist Taskinen reminds that breathing exercises should be done regularly so that the results achieved remain. There may be small breaks from training occasionally, but she recommends making breathing exercises a daily routine.

“I think Corona has woken people up to observe more of their own breathing. Usually, too little attention is paid to breathing” Taskinen says.

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