An observation on breathing

Professor Stephen Spiro, Deputy Chairman of the British Lung Foundation, recently shared an observation he made when people try to breathe while slumped on the sofa. “You’ll notice that people don’t sigh when they sit slumped — they have to sit up to take a deep breath,” he commented.

“That’s because the lungs work best when we’re vertical. If you’re slumped forward you don’t fully breathe and ventilate the lungs, because they’re compressed and the diaphragm is coming up into the chest — so you won’t breathe as easily and efficiently.”

This compression of the diaphragm can cause breathing problems for anyone, but especially those with asthma or lung disease, and will affect cyclists who adopt this position while racing.

In the same article in The Daily Mail online, physiotherapist Sammy Margo noted that slumping can mean less oxygen to the brain, saying that ‘C-shaped people complain of being tired and fatigued all the time and it’s because the lungs are squashed and cannot get enough air in, and the brain needs plenty of oxygen to function at its best.’

Read more about how POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training can help people with breathing problems such as asthma, and if you’re a cyclist, why you should include POWERbreathe IMT as part of your cycling training. If however you’re already using POWERbreathe, then please leave a comment here or on the POWERbreathe Forum as we’d love to hear about how you’ve benefited from this breathing training.

Why train your breathing?

Why train your breathing?

By Duncan Kerr

If it weren’t for the fact that breathing is automatic and taken for granted then we would not be asking this question.

Sports people train all their other muscle groups yet ignore the most fundamental system necessary to improve sports performance – the muscles used for breathing.

If ever there was a weak link in the chain, this is it!

The faster you move the greater demand there is for oxygen delivery to your working muscles, and carbon dioxide removal. This in turn increases your heart rate and subsequently your inspiratory breathing muscles have to work very hard to keep up. Eventually, as we’ve all experienced, they fail, but the point at which they fail can be extended by training the breathing muscles separately with POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training.

Most people assume that if you train hard, perhaps with interval training or running up hill, you will develop strong breathing muscles. This is not necessarily the case because there is a limiting factor called the metaboreflex- the body’s built in brake.

This interaction was examined in the 2001, Nov 15th issue of The Journal of Physiology (Dempsey and colleagues), article “Robin Hood for the lungs? A respiratory metaboreflex that ‘steals’ blood flow from locomotor muscles.”

They demonstrated that manipulation of breathing work during maximal performance results in a marked change in the blood flow of the working muscles, as well as a change in cardiac output and the uptake of oxygen in the whole body, as well as in the active muscles. In addition, they established the remarkable metabolic cost of supporting the respiratory system (muscles) during high performance, which may be as high as 14 – 18 % of the cardiac output (Harms et al 1998).

To break through this barrier you must train your breathing system separately.

So what is the metaboreflex?

When you hit that point on the hill where you struggle to breathe your brain puts the brakes on i.e. reducing blood flow to your legs and redirecting it to support a poorly conditioned breathing system. Hence every time you reach your limit, the brakes come on and you can’t train past it. BUT if you train your breathing muscles independently to a higher level, when you hit the point where you previously “blew up” you can carry on, as your brain now continues to allow the blood flow to the working muscles. Stronger muscles equal more power, less fatigue and greater endurance.

There is also a big psychological benefit. When breathing feels easy you are able to push yourself harder. Go further – faster.

Your breathing muscles are also used for stability and propulsion in many sports, swimming and rowing in particular, but in almost all sports: footballers jumping for a header; boxers and rugby players taking an impact on the chest; walking at altitude- the list is endless.

How do you train your breathing muscles?

POWERbreathe works in exactly the same way as any other form of resistance/weight training, such as dumbbell curls for your arms – for instance, doing 30 reps a day over a period of a month will result in you gradually increasing the size of the dumbbell. At the end of the month you’ll have stronger arms which will be able to lift more with less effort. Using POWERbreathe you’re doing exactly the same thing for your breathing muscles – training against a resistance that you increase with the more training you do, and as your breathing muscles become stronger. The difficult bit was developing a device that could train your internal breathing muscles (which are primarily the intercostals between the ribs and the diaphragm).

POWERbreathe training benefits are twofold

  1. It delays the onset of the metaboreflex.
  2. It trains you to breathe more efficiently and deeply using your diaphragm and intercostals to expand your ribcage and maximise the full potential of your lung capacity, which you’re probably not fully utilising. The lungs can then inflate quickly to their maximum potential allowing more efficient use of alveoli for greater gas exchange.

Many athletes report being able to inhale over one litre of air more after inspiratory muscle training with POWERbreathe, than before POWERbreathe training, and due to the increased strength of the diaphragm, they can inhale at a much higher speed, for example improving from inhaling 4 litres to 5 litres of air and inhaling at 9 litres per second from 6 litres per second.

Luca Piancastelli, one of Italy’s top fitness instructors, said of POWERbreathe,

“I’ve often wondered how to structure the ideal workout for those who practice sport with a high aerobic effort. I looked for empirical systems that help me promote improved aerobic capacity of athletes. I recently tested – first on myself and then on other people that I coach – POWERbreathe, and without a doubt I can say that it is an essential complement to improve anyone’s performance. With the K5 I can monitor breathing qualities and follow step by step improvements. When you believe in a product, it’s easy to recommend!”

You can read more about the benefits of breathing training for sports and exercise, performing arts, health and medical, and the uniformed services in POWERbreathe Benefits.

How does POWERbreathe Work?

POWERbreathe uses a variable, calibrated, spring loaded valve to adjust the “weight” your breathing muscles will be “lifting”. You start off with a ‘light resistance’ and gradually increase the resistance over time, just as you would when training any other muscle group. This breathing training can be done anywhere in around 5 minutes, even if you are injured or it’s too cold to train outside. Training is just 30 breaths twice a day for the first month, then once a day to maintain your improved strength and endurance.

POWERbreathe breathing training is “The easiest gain you will ever get” said Eddie Fletcher, top rowing and cycling coach.

Types of POWERbreathe

There are currently two types of POWERbreathe: mechanical and electronic. The mechanical models (Classic and Plus) have hand adjustable valves for changing the resistance load, and the electronic (K-Series), as you would expect, feature a unique electronically controlled valve. The electronic units use a very sophisticated computer controlled valve that adjusts the loading automatically based on the current muscle strength of the user. The top end K5 unit connects to a laptop and gives instant visual feedback on load, volume, speed and energy used, via the Breathe-Link software. All sessions are saved for progress monitoring.

Background

POWERbreathe has been available for over 15 years following its early development at Loughborough and Birmingham Universities. There have been numerous studies proving the effectiveness of inspiratory muscle training in many sports disciplines, as well as in medical applications, such as helping people with COPD and Asthma.

POWERbreathe is used around the world by top athletes in all sports, including World record holders and Olympic champions in numerous disciplines, but it can be used by everybody who breathes, even if only to get to the top of the stairs without getting out of breath.

A brief selection of current POWERbreathe users from different sports disciplines

Highlanders – New Zealand Rugby Champions

Anthony Ogogo – Olympic Bronze Medal Winning Boxer

Lucy Garner – Current Road Cycling World Champion

Martin Strel – Guinness World Record Holder (swam the Amazon)

Vitorrio Brumotti – World Record Holder (for riding his bike up stairs to the top of the world’s tallest building) 

Martin Binna – Czech Cyclocross Champion

Gi Ka Man Gi – Winner of the Hong Kong Half Marathon

If you’re a POWERbreathe user then please leave a comment here as we’d love to hear your experience of breathing training using your POWERbreathe.

Breathing Big in 2013

So, 2013 is the year for Breathing Big! Well, all you POWERbreathe users are one-step ahead in setting the trend for improving your breathing strength and breathing pattern. You’ll already be familiar with the benefits that inspiratory muscle training has on your breathing and ultimately your sports performance, or if you have breathing difficulties, on your quality of life.

We’ve heard from the US that Breathing Big is going to be making its mark in 2013, with “fitness professionals taking more credence in assessing breathing patterns in their clients”.

“While we’re just scratching the tip of the iceberg in this regard, it’s profound how much of an effect faulty breathing patterns – in this case people relying too much on their accessory breathing muscles like the upper traps, scalanes, levator etc and NOT their diaphragm – has on everything from posture and many common dysfunctions we see in the general population (neck pain, shoulder pain, evel lower back pain) to performance, in and outside the gym,” says Tony Gentilcore, co-owner of Cressey Performance.

He goes on to add, “Taking as little as five minutes to show clients how to “use” their diaphragm can go a long ways in helping them not only feel better but set themselves up for success, whether their goal is to lift a Mack truck or just look better naked.”

POWERbreathe users will know that training with POWERbreathe for only 5-minutes twice a day will make a big difference to their breathing strength and endurance, and can be done just as easily at the gym, at home – or when out and about.

Jordan Syatt, Author, Trainer and Greatist Expert, also predicts that one of the top 3 trends for 2013 will be diaphragmatic breathing.

“It’s progressively become more of a mainstream term among health and fitness professionals, but it hasn’t received much attention in the media or lay public. Granted, it’s not sexy of very appealing, but the benefits are astounding and it’s bound to pick up big time” he says.

Your diaphragm is you most efficient breathing muscle, and is a large, dome-shaped muscle located at the base of your lungs. It’s your abdominal muscles that help to move your diaphragm and give you the power to empty your lungs. People with breathing problems, such as those with COPD, have difficulty with their diaphragm working effectively.

This is because air becomes trapped in the lungs, pushing down on the diaphragm.  Because of this, the neck and chest muscles take on an increased share of the work of breathing which can leave the diaphragm weak and flattened, causing it to work less efficiently.

POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training is intended to help you use your breathing muscles correctly to strengthen your breathing muscles, including your diaphragm and use less effort and energy to breathe.  At first you’ll notice an increased effort will be needed to use your diaphragm correctly while using POWERbreathe, and you’re breathing muscles will get tired. But stick at it because with regular use (following the scientific proven regimen of 30 breaths twice a day) your breathing strength and stamina will increase, allowing you to increase the resistance on your POWERbreathe and continue to improve.

Read more about the benefits of inspiratory muscle training (IMT) with POWERbreathe, and if you are already a POWERbreathe user, we’d love to hear how it’s helping you. Please leave a comment here.

Keep your lungs healthy

Maintaining health and fitness is tough and usually it is our body that takes the strain. However, if you think that is tough try being a pair of lungs. Toned thighs and abs get respect but the lungs don’t get treated with respect. The lungs fuel each and every breath we take and it seems we take them for granted.  Following some basic healthy habits you can have fit and healthy lungs with incredible capacity throughout your life. The main priority is to try and avoid smoke and air pollution, and now that smoking is no longer allowed in public places, this has become easier

#Asthma

Asthma’s main characteristics are chronic swelling and narrowing of the bronchi. However, despite improved air quality the number of asthma cases is still on the rise.  Most people’s asthma is caused by allergies – dust being the main one.

Anyone who suffers from asthma will frequently cough, and this is usually worse at night time, during exercise and even when laughing.  An asthma sufferer will sometimes have trouble breathing and may experience a tightness in the chest as well as wheezing.

If you have any of these symptoms you should see your GP immediately.  He will prescribe appropriate medication which could include inhalers.

#Acute Bronchitis

Bronchitis is the result of an infection. This infection causes the lining of the bronchial tubes to become inflamed which results in mucus production and airway obstruction. Usually acute bronchitis is caused by viruses but bacterial and fungal infections can also cause this condition.  Bronchitis can last for up to 10 days but the cough may persist. If this lingers past 10 days consult your GP to check it is not pneumonia. If you are a smoker or suffer from asthma it is more than likely that you will have acute bronchitis symptoms.

Anyone who suffers from bronchitis will have a deep cough which could lead to you producing clear or yellow mucus. This will be accompanied by wheezing, fever and chest tightness and pain.

If you suffer these symptoms see your GP immediately as you may need antibiotics. Take plenty of rest, fluids, vitamin C and zinc.

#COPD

COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is the term for chronic bronchitis and emphysema.  Many people are under the illusion that it only affects the elderly – WRONG! In the USA it is the third biggest killer behind heart disease and cancer. COPD usually affects smokers but around 10 – 20% of COPD sufferers are non smokers.  Other factors that contribute to COPD include poor air quality and family history.

Anyone who is a sufferer of COPD will have a constant cough and this often produces lots of mucus. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and wheezing.

If you notice any of these symptoms, especially if you are a smoker then you should go and see your GP immediately. Your GP will conduct a screening test, the same as the one for asthma sufferers as well as a full physical exam. If you do have COPD the single most important thing you can do is to stop smoking.

If you suffer from any of the above respiratory conditions we would love to hear how you deal with the condition.  Please post in the comments below.

 

 

 

Deep breathing facts

diaphragmIn general, the human organism was not designed to breathe deeply at all times and in all situations. The depth of our breath, whether it is shallow, medium, or deep depends in large part on what it is we are doing. If we are sitting quietly reading, for example, we do not need to be breathing deeply. If we are working hard and expending a great deal of energy, however, we might well need to breathe deeply. Another situation in which deep breathing can be beneficial is when we are trying to revitalise our energy.

Deep breathing can be important to both health and spiritual development. Such breathing can increase our vitality and promote relaxation. Unfortunately, when we try to take a so-called deep breath, many of us do the exact opposite: we suck in our bellies, raise our shoulders, and try to expand our chest. This is shallow breathing. To learn deep breathing we need to do far more than learn new breathing exercises. Before deep breathing exercises can be of any lasting value, we need to experience and understand through the direct inner sensation of our own bodies the function of the chest muscles and diaphragm in breathing, as well as the function of the belly and back. We also need to observe how unnecessary tension in our muscles impedes our breathing.

The diaphragm is a dome-shaped structure that not only assists in breathing, but also acts as a natural partition between our heart and lungs on the one hand, and all of the other internal organs on the other. The top of the diaphragm, located about one and one-half inches up from the bottom of the sternum, actually supports the heart, while the bottom of the diaphragm is attached all the way around our lower ribs and connects also to our lower lumbar vertebrae. When we breathe, the surface of our diaphragm generally moves downward as we inhale and upward as we exhale. When we breathe fully and deeply, which is only possible when the belly releases and expands on inhalation and retracts on exhalation, the diaphragm moves farther down into the abdomen, and our lungs are able to expand more completely into the chest cavity. This means that more oxygen is taken in and more carbon dioxide is released with each breath. Of course, if we breathe both deeply and relatively quickly, we could lose too much carbon dioxide too quickly, which can cause us to over breathe or hyperventilate.

Deep breathing, when it is easy, natural, and necessary, can have a beneficial influence on our health and well being. To understand how this happens, we need to remember that the diaphragm is attached all around the lower ribcage and has strands going down to the lumbar vertebrae. When our breathing is full and deep, the diaphragm moves through its entire range downward to massage the liver, stomach, and other organs and tissues below it, and upward to massage the heart. When our breathing is full and deep, the belly, lower ribcage, and lower back all expand on inhalation, thus drawing the diaphragm down deeper into the abdomen, and retract on exhalation, allowing the diaphragm to move fully upward toward the heart. In deep, abdominal breathing, the downward and upward movements of the diaphragm, combined with the outward and inward movements of the belly, ribcage, and lower back, help to massage and detoxify our inner organs, promote blood flow and peristalsis, and pump the lymph more efficiently through our lymphatic system. The lymphatic system, which is an important part of our immune system, has no pump other than muscular movements, including the movements of breathing.

As you begin to observe your breathing in the course of your everyday life, you may notice that you often breathe too fast for the conditions in which you find yourself, that is, you actually hyperventilate. This fast, shallow breathing expels carbon dioxide too quickly and has many bad effects on our physical and emotional health. When our breathing is deeper, when it involves in an appropriate way not only the respiratory muscles of the chest but also the belly, lower ribcage, and lower, middle and upper back, our breathing normally slows down. This slower, deeper breathing, combined with the rhythmical pumping of our diaphragm, abdomen, and belly, helps turn on our parasympathetic nervous system–our “relaxation response.” Such breathing helps to harmonise our nervous system and reduce the amount of stress in our lives. And this, of course, has a positive impact on our overall health.

By incorporating these breathing techniques into your inspiratory muscle training programme you will help strengthen your respiratory muscles.

 

Ten secrets for better breathing

Breathing is one of the most important things we do on a daily basis to help us live well each and every day. If we don’t breathe our organs will not receive the vital supply of oxygen required to help us live. Breathing also has a second function, it also helps to rid the body of toxins and waste products.

Oxygen is the most vital nutrient for our bodies and is essential for the brain, nerves, glands and all the internal organs.  We can go many days without food and water but with no oxygen supply we will die in a matter of minutes. The brain is the organ which requires more oxygen than any other organ. A lack of oxygen can cause mental sluggishness, negative thoughts and even depression. A poor supply of oxygen affects all parts of the body.

 

 

 

Here are ten top better breathing secrets:

  1. If possible in your daily life, inhale and exhale only through your nose, even when you are doing aerobic exercise.
  2.  Sense the movement of your breath frequently in the midst of your everyday activities. Remember not to hold your breath.
  3. Be sure your belly stays relaxed. Let it expand as you inhale and retract as you exhale. Touch it and massage it frequently. Your belly is the foundation of your breath.
  4. Breath is life and movement. Let your breath engage and fill every part of your body, especially your belly, back, spine, and chest.
  5. To transform your breathing, start with your exhalation, with “letting go.”
  6. A long, slow exhalation helps harmonize your diaphragm and turns on your “relaxation response.”
  7. Sense the natural pause after exhalation; let yourself rest there for a moment.
  8. Let your inhalation arise by itself, when it’s ready.
  9. Sense the various breathing spaces of your body several times a day. Smile into these spaces and observe how your awareness helps them open and close effortlessly.
  10. Remember, you are a breathing being, alive right now and here. Let yourself feel the mystery and the miracle of your breath and your life as often as you can.

Following these ten steps can help you breathe better and assist in inspiratory muscle training to make your breathing muscles stronger.

 

Breathing for relaxation

Anyone who parbreathing_and_relaxation_techniquesticipates in sports is extremely active. Competitive sports people are so concerned and focused on winning they tend to become nervous, tense and unable to get into the ‘zone’ ready for competing in the game.

If you are getting wound up like a coil then you should be checking your breath. Are you experiencing short and fast breaths? If, so then your thoughts and ability to stay calm and focused have been affected.

Throughout the day you should always do a ‘breath test’. Is your breathing calm and smooth when you expect it to be? If it isn’t then the following technique should help you.  Inhale and exhale through your nose. While doing this close your windpipe enough until your hear a hissing sound. May the force be with you because you should sound like Darth Vader when doing this technique. This technique will completely connect your mind and body and help you relax, almost as though you are in a place which has total peace and quiet a bit like a place where all you hear are the sounds of the ocean.

The purpose of this technique is to help you regulate the flow of breath in and out of your system. Instead of using your lungs like bellows you are controlling your windpipe and using it like a hose which lets you control how much air comes in and out of your body. At this point your breathing should feel calm, smooth and effortless.

The name given to this technique is Ujjavi breath. People who practice yoga will be familiar with this breath as they believe it sends the energy into each and every cell in your body. Practicing this technique before major competitions will help you to relax and focus on the task in hand…WINNING!

With practice, you will be able to perfect the control of your breathing to help you focus and stay relaxed. Practicing these techniques and other forms of inspiratory muscle training will certainly help you perform better.

Breathing for focus using the 4-4-8 breathing technique

The 4-4-8 breathing technique is a basic breathing technique which is designed to help you relax and focus. This technique is great if you feel stressed or tense. Using this technique will help you get rid of the tension so you can focus on what you need to do. No matter what your goal is, controlling the breath will help you focus and clarify your thinking.

This breathing method will only be successful if you are totally at ease and relaxed.  If you are tense then it makes good sense to relax your body. One basic relaxation technique involves you laying flat on the floor or sitting comfortably on a chair with your feet firmly flat on the ground. Close your eyes and gradually tense and relax each part of the body working upwards from your feet to your head. Once you feel you are fully relaxed you need to switch your attention to your breath.

This breathing exercise will help you focus and clear your mind as well as lift your mood.

Start by inhaling for four counts of time.  Make sure you fill your lungs completely to the point where you feel your abdomen is filled full of air like a balloon.  Hold your breath for four counts then slowly exhale for eight counts.

It will take a few attempts before you feel comfortable but you will soon find a rhythm that suits you as there is no wrong way of using this technique.  As you are inhaling visualise health and vitality entering your body, while holding the count of four imagine perfect health and energy filling each and every cell in your body. When you exhale imagine you are blowing away the pain, fatigue, tension and stress that you have in your body.

Whenever you feel stressed or low or want a boost of energy, simply carrying out three sets of twelve repetitions will to help lift your mood.  Inspiratory muscle training such as this breathing technique is great for healthy and happy lungs.

 

Top tips to quit smoking for a healthier lifestyle

Whether you’re looking to get fitter, breathe better or save some money, trying to quit smoking is a life-changing decision with numerous benefits, especially for your health. This may include preventing coronary heart disease and stroke. Quitting smoking early enough also helps prevent cancers of the lung and upper airways, as well as, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

It isn’t easy and it isn’t fun, but once you’re motivated to stop smoking, the positives outweigh the negatives. Public Health England offer some advice on what works including local stop smoking services, nicotine replacement therapies and stop smoking medicines prescribed by a GP.

Here are a few additional top tips to help you quit smoking cigarettes.

Make a list of reasons to quit smoking

It is always useful to make a list of reasons why you need to stub out that cigarette.

Stay motivated

Stubbing out your cigarette for good has some great benefits:

  • Your blood pressure, pulse and body temperature return to normal within 20 minutes of your last cigarette.
  • Eight hours after your last smoke, carbon monoxide levels and oxygen levels in the blood stream normalise.
  • Your sense of smell and taste is heightened after just two days.

Within three months your circulation will improve and your lung function will be better.

Find other ways to relax

If you find smoking helps you keep calm, find other outlets for your stress and anxiety. Try taking up yoga, meditation and exercise. Breathing exercises can help ease anxiety and keep you calm. By just taking a deep breath, yawn or counting to ten can make you feel instantly calmer. In fact, research shows that a single session of Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) can reduce systolic blood pressure and improve parasympathetic and sympathetic modulations in young smokers.

Furthermore, regular exercise will help ease your nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms as well as improve your breathing technique. Not only that, but regular exercise will help you keep off the extra weight gain that some smokers experience when they quit smoking.

Cut down on caffeine

If coffee is a smoking trigger for you, cutting down on nicotine will make caffeine’s effects on your body more pronounced. However, don’t try to quit drinking coffee at the same time as you are trying to quit smoking as it will make it even harder to stub out that cigarette.

Bin it

As soon as you commit yourself to quitting then you need to bin anything you have that is associated with smoking – lighters, ashtrays and of course any cigarettes lying around.  Give your house a good clean to rid it of the smell of smoke and begin a fresh new start.

If at first you don’t succeed……try and try again

It usually takes more than one attempt to give up smoking altogether. After all it is an addiction. Don’t be disheartened if the first go is not successful. Keep trying and establish why it didn’t work the first time. Then, commit to success the next time.

Finally, the NHS offers stop smoking services to help you quit and on their website you will find contact details for your local stop smoking service.

Increase your lung efficiency with exercise

Inspiratory Muscle TrainingExercising on a regular basis is critical for fitness. Regular aerobic exercise is essential for cardiovascular fitness as the exercise reduces the amount of work the lungs need to do. However, you cannot increase your lung capacity with regular exercise and if you suffer from lung disorders such as COPD, asthma or emphysema regular exercise will not improve lung function.

Regular physical activity will help strengthen your limb muscles  and help to reduce shortness of breath symptoms and increase your stamina.

Function of the respiratory system

The respiratory system is made up of the nose, throat, windpipe and lungs.  This whole system works together to provide your body with life nourishing air in order for you to survive, as well as removing the waste gasses from your body.  To breathe correctly the airways must be open and clear of inflammation and large amounts of mucus.

Do you have asthma

You do if you suffer from shortness of breath, wheezing and constant coughing. These are all triggered by physical exertion or exercise..  When your airways constrict, extra mucus is produced and this is when the above symptoms will occur.

This doesn’t mean to say an asthma sufferer cannot enjoy running or jogging it just means they should choose indoor track venues rather than running outdoors as indoor their lungs will not breathe in any air pollutants.  Another important point to remember is warm up and cool down. Correct warm up and cool down exercises can also reduce the risk of exercise induced asthma.

Perfect exercise for asthma sufferers include swimming and yoga. Yoga is particularly good as it concentrates on breathing techniques, stretching and meditation.

Do you suffer from Emphysema?

Anyone who has this respiratory condition should take up walking as this is the best form of exercise for emphysema sufferers. Emphysema is a permanent form of COPD and is mainly found in people who are heavy smokers. If you do suffer from emphysema then two or three 15 minute walks per day are advisable. Strength training exercises can help build arm and leg muscles which may ease breathing difficulty while improving endurance. Breathing and balance techniques practiced may also benefit emphysema patients and help with their COPD treatment.