May 12, 2020

Do Any Breathing Exercises Help If You Have COVID-19?

The short answer from an infectious disease specialist

Illustration of lungs gathering air

Q: I have COVID-19. Are there any breathing exercises I can do to help?

A: Breathing exercises are recommended for people with certain lung conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to help rid the lungs of stale air and strengthen the muscles involved in breathing.

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When it comes to COVID-19, there aren’t any particular breathing exercises that we recommend for these patients. Currently, there haven’t been any studies showing the effects of these exercises on people with this disease. However, routinely taking deep breaths that fill your lungs to their full capacity is important for people with any lung illness.

People who have or might have COVID-19 shouldn’t be using any breathing exercises in place of getting treatment from a medical professional. If you’re having symptoms that include difficulty breathing, contact your healthcare provider to see if you should be tested or treated.

— Infectious disease specialist Kristin Englund, MD

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