Bengaluru: The covid pandemic has hit India hard. Several deaths are being reported across the country. 

Oxygen cylinders, concentrators and hospital beds are not easily available. However, staying indoors, confining oneself to the four walls is one of the easiest ways to protect oneself. 

Exercising regularly is also one of the easiest ways to stay fit. Talking of exercises, breathing exercises are extremely beneficial in keeping the lungs intact. 

Dr. Arvind Kumar, Chairman, Institute of Chest Surgery, Medanta Founder and Managing Trustee, Lung Care Foundation informs us that 90% of COVID-19 patients experience some lung involvement but it is not clinically significant. 10% - 12% people develop pneumonia, a lung infection in which alveoli, the tiny air sacs in our lungs get inflamed. A very small proportion of COVID-19 patients need oxygen support, when shortness of breath progresses to a more acute condition.

Enter Breath Holding Exercise, a technique which can help reduce patients’ oxygen requirement and help them monitor their condition.

How Breath Holding Exercise Helps

Dr. Arvind says the exercise is extremely beneficial for patients who have mild symptoms. If these patients practise the exercise, chances of their supplemental oxygen requirement are reduced. The exercise can be used as a test to monitor the patient’s condition. If the breath-holding time starts decreasing, this is an early warning sign and the patient should consult his/her doctor. On the other hand, if a patient is able to increase their breath holding time gradually, it is positive sign.

Hospitalised patients and those discharged on home-oxygen can also practise the exercise, in consultation with their doctor. This can help reduce their oxygen requirement. 

Healthy persons can also practice the breath-holding exercise. It will help them keep their lungs healthy.

How to Do Breath Holding Exercise

Sit straight and keep your hands on your thighs

Open your mouth and suck in as much air as you can to fill your chest

Close your lips tightly

Hold your breath for as long as you can

Check how many seconds you can hold your breath

Patients can practise once in an hour and gradually try and increase the breath holding time. Those with breath holding time of 25 seconds and above are considered to be safe. One must take care to not try too hard and get exhausted in the process.