fbpx Increasing Lung Capacity with Controlled Breathing | CCNM-ICC

November is lung cancer awareness month, and if you have been diagnosed with lung cancer and undergone treatment with surgery or radiation, you may be experiencing reduced lung capacity, which may be limiting some of your activities.  

The good news is that controlled breathing exercises can help retrain your lung muscles to help enhance your lung capacity. This may mean less shortness of breath and less recovery time needed after exertion.  
Controlled breathing exercises encourage us to focus awareness on our breath, and have also been shown to help reduce stress, increase alertness and support our immune system.  
A simple exercise to start with is abdominal, or diaphragmatic breathing.  


  1. Lie comfortably on your back with your hands and legs naturally spread from the sides of your body, eyes closed.   
  2. Place your right hand on your abdomen, just above the navel and place the left hand over the centre of your chest. 
  3. Practice drawing the breath in and out directly through the navel. The right hand will move up with inhalation and down with exhalation, while the left hand remains almost still. Let the abdomen relax. Do not try to force the movement in any way. Try not expand the chest or move the shoulders.
  4. Inhale while expanding the abdomen as much as is comfortable, without expanding the ribcage. At the end if the inhalation, the diaphragm will compress the abdomen and the navel will be at its highest point. 
  5. On exhalation, the diaphragm moves upward and the abdomen moves downward. At the end of the exhalation the abdomen will be contracted, and navel will be compressed towards the spine.   
  6. Continue breathing this way for 5-10 minutes. Bring the awareness back to observing the physical body. Be aware of the surroundings and gently open your eyes.