Breathing Exercises for Seniors: Instruction and Advice

Breathing exercises for seniors is a simple yet critical way to support your overall wellness. Breathing is one of the most important—and yet often overlooked—elements of life. How you breathe can have a direct and profound impact on your strength, sleep health, immune function, and overall mood.


To increase your feelings of well-being, learning how to perform breathing exercises can result in relaxation, stress reduction, and serve as a coping mechanism for difficult emotions. Ready to learn the best breathing exercises and techniques for seniors so you can fill your body with the air it needs to thrive—and feel your absolute best? Let’s get started.

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Why Are Breathing Exercises For Older Adults Important?

No matter what age you are, you can benefit from incorporating breathing exercises into your daily routine. When you breathe shallowly—with your chest—the muscles in your chest, back, and neck contract to draw air into your lungs. But when you breathe with your stomach muscles, for example, the diaphragm contracts to pull air into the body.


Because your diaphragm muscle is much stronger, it’s far more efficient than the chest and back muscles—so you’ll get more air into the body and fill your entire lungs with the oxygen you need.


Shallow breathing can contribute to feelings of discomfort, fatigue, and anxiety. As the body doesn’t have access to the proper amount of oxygen, it can easily become oxygen-deprived and cannot adequately calm down the mind and body.


Luckily, you can retrain your body to prioritize and learn deep breathing exercising for seniors to nourish and rejuvenate the body. Additional benefits of breathing exercises include:

  • Pain management and reduction. If you’re experiencing chronic pain, it may be related to a condition called ischemia—which means that blood flow is either restricted or reduced in certain parts of your body. Utilizing breathing exercises can help promote blood flow and circulation. And as your blood flow increases, your pain may decrease as well.
  • Improved focus and attention. Our brains create and release a chemical called noradrenaline when the body is forced to spring into action. However, when we are stressed the body can release too much, causing us to feel unfocused and out of sorts. Leveraging breathing exercises can help slow our heart rate and decrease the amount of noradrenaline released, which can help improve overall focus and attention.
  • Enhanced sleep. Not only can your breathing impact your quality of sleep, but it can lead to a series of other health issues like sleep apnea which may trigger things like heart disease, mood and memory issues, and hypertension. The benefits of good sleep hygiene include healthy muscle repair, balanced cell regeneration, proper brain function, and strong immune system health.
  • Increased relaxation and reduced anxiety. When you partake in breathing exercises, you activate your parasympathetic nervous system. This will help you feel calmer and more relaxed. It’s beneficial for reducing unnecessary adrenaline, lowering blood pressure, increasing oxygen flow, and creating a more positive state of mind.
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When is the Best Time to Do Breathing Exercises for Seniors?

Wondering when is the best time to do breathing exercises for seniors? The answer is: Whenever it works for you. There is no right or wrong time to devote to this practice—however, to ensure long-term effectiveness, we recommend making breathing exercises a daily part of your routine.


If you’re a morning person, doing breathing exercises for the elderly in the morning can help you become aware of any unhealthy chest breathing and shallow breathing patterns. By starting the day with this intention, you can then take time throughout the day to consciously check in with yourself and practice better breathing habits.


If you’re a night owl—or if you regularly have trouble sleeping—taking time to practice breathing exercises before bed can help improve your quality of sleep and help you destress before you go to bed. Take a few moments to consider your nightly routine and ask yourself where you can add in a short breathing exercise or two.

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Deep Breathing Exercises for Seniors

Deep breathing exercises for seniors can be helpful if you’re looking to slow your heartbeat, stabilize your blood pressure, or lower overall stress levels. Learning to breathe using your diaphragm instead of your chest allows your body to fully exchange incoming oxygen with outgoing carbon dioxide.


Be sure to practice these deep breathing exercises for older adults in a safe and comfortable space, preferably sitting or laying down. As you start practicing and you notice any feelings of lightheadedness, dizziness, or disorientation, pause the exercise and return to your normal breathing.


Here are a few deep breathing exercises for elderly adults to try at home.


Belly Breathing

This is an easy and effective way to practice deep breathing at home. Belly breathing can help you disrupt your negative breathing patterns and create a relaxed breath cycle.


Here’s how it goes:

  • Comfortably position yourself either in a chair or laying down.
  • Position your hands on your belly.
  • Close your eyes and your mouth.
  • Take a gradual breath in through your nose.
  • Focus on filling your belly with the air. You’ll want to inflate it like a balloon.
  • When you can’t inhale anymore, pause for a second.
  • Leisurely begin to exhale through pursed lips.
  • Direct your thoughts to your breath as you repeat the process.
  • Spend five to ten minutes relaxing into this pattern.
  • Be intentional to keep your hands on your belly, this helps to direct your focus.

Learn more about belly breathing and watch an instructional video from the American Lung Association.


Lion’s Breath

If you’re looking for a deep breathing exercise to spark some joy and leave you feeling a little silly, Lion's breath is our favorite.


Here’s how it goes:

  • Position yourself comfortably on the floor or in a chair.
  • Inhale through your nose and fill your belly with air.
  • When you can’t inhale anymore, open your mouth as wide as you can.
  • Using your voice, begin exhaling with a repeated “HA” sound until you are out of breath.
  • Repeat as many times as you would like to help clear your mind.

If you’re looking for another resource, you can partake in this exercise by following along with this video.

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Breathing Exercises for Elderly to Improve Lung Function

Next, let’s talk about breathing exercises for elderly adults to improve lung function! If you’re prone to experiencing lung-related conditions or problems such as asthma, these exercises can help you build your lung capacity and increase your stamina.


Here are a few breathing exercises for older adults to help promote better lung function. It’s best to practice these exercises in a safe space—and remember to stop immediately if you start feeling dizzy or out of sorts.


Pursed Lips Breathing

Ready to increase your lung capacity? Pursed Lips Breathing is an easy way to open your airways and increase the airflow in and out of your lungs.


Here’s how it goes:

  • Position yourself sitting up in a chair that helps promote good posture.
  • Inhale deeply through your nose for 2-3 seconds.
  • Exhale through the mouth, using pursed lips, in a slow, intentional matter. It should take you at least twice as long to exhale as it did to inhale.
  • Repeat as many times as you can comfortably.

If you aren’t physically active, this can be a good way to activate your lungs and increase your stamina. You can learn more about how to practice this breathing exercise from the COPD Foundation.


Yoga Breathing

Looking for a new way to focus on enhancing your lung capacity and learning how to use your breath to center your thoughts? Yoga breathing is the exercise for you!


Here’s how it goes:

  • Inhale gradually through your nose, allowing your chest and belly to expand with air for 4 seconds.
  • Exhale from your nose slowly, for about 8 seconds.
  • Repeat until your thoughts have stopped racing and you feel centered.

You can learn more about how to learn and practice this yoga breathing technique from Yoga Anytime.

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Relaxing Breathing Exercises for Seniors

Feeling stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed? Try a relaxing breathing exercise for seniors. These are perfect to keep in your back pocket for days when you’re anxious or overwhelmed—and they can also be a great addition to your evening routine in helping you wind down and clear your mind.


4-7-8

4-7-8 breathing is the most recommended exercise for managing stress and anxious thoughts. It has also been shown to help you fall asleep faster, especially if you’re prone to waking up in the middle of the night. It’s very similar to yoga breathing, but it slows the process down a little bit.


Here’s how it goes:

  • Start by inhaling through your nose for 4 seconds, letting the air fill your lungs and belly.
  • Hold your breath for a count of 7 seconds.
  • Exhale through your mouth using pursed lips for a count of 8 seconds. Make a “whoosh” sound to ensure you’re exhaling forcefully enough.
  • Repeat this cycle up to 4 times in one sitting and then as needed throughout the day.

To learn more about how the 4-7-8 breathing technique works, you can explore this article. It also shares some times and tricks if you find 4-7-8 to be too long or too hard when you’re first starting out.


Box Breathing


Box breathing is an easy and effective way to help your body relax. We recommend it in stressful situations or before you go to bed.

Here’s how it goes:

  • Exhale for a count of four.
  • Pause for a count of four.
  • Inhale for a count of four.
  • Pause for a count of four.
  • Repeat until you feel a greater sense of calm.

You can learn more about the benefits and techniques of box breathing from the Very Well Mind.

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Learn and Plan With Everdays

As you prepare for the next phase of your life, Everdays is here to help. From learning about helpful breathing exercises to boosting your overall well-being as you age, our comprehensive platform helps you get access to all the resources and information you need so you can live out your golden years with joy, confidence, and fun.

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© 2022 Everdays, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Everdays mark and the Everdays logo are registered trademarks of Everdays, Inc.
* This app is owned and operated by Everdays, Inc., a Delaware corporation doing business in California as Everdays Moments Insurance Marketing.