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After Having COVID—Overcoming Shortness of Breath

Melissa Stewart, DPT
Physical Therapist
September 10, 2021

Did you have COVID? Are you still having trouble getting back to your normal exercise routine several months after you thought you had recovered? For many, this is an unfortunate reality that is not often discussed. In the healthcare industry, we call these people “long-haulers.” So , you’re not alone.

We know that the COVID virus can impact several organs including your lungs, heart, and kidneys. In this post, we’ll discuss ways to manage one of the most common symptoms long-haulers experience: shortness of breath with minimal exertion. 

You may be thinking, why do I continue to get so tired with little activity, even though I’ve recovered from COVID? Shortness of breath typically indicates that your lungs are not working to their maximum efficiency. Luckily, there are ways to improve your breathing efficiency. Improving the strength of the diaphragm and allowing the lungs to expand to their full capacity helps you feel more in control of your breath.

Here are two exercises you can practice:

Diaphragmatic Breathing

  1. Place 1 hand on top of your stomach and the other on your chest.
  2. Breathe in through the nose and feel your stomach rise. Your chest may rise slightly.
  3. Slowly exhale your breath through the nose.
  4. Repeat deep breaths for one minute.
  5. Perform this breath on your back, stomach, in sitting, and in standing.

Seated Pursed Lip Breathing with Arm Raise

  1. Sit upright in a chair.
  2. As you inhale through your nose, lift your arms up and out to your sides, allowing your rib cage to expand with your breath.
  3. Exhale through pursed lips (like you’re blowing out a candle) as you slowly lower your arms back down.
  4. Try to count to 4 with each inhale and exhale.

Keep practicing these techniques several times throughout your day, and you will feel more in control of your breath. If you are still concerned, be sure to reach out to us for more advice and support.