University of Illinois Extension

Breathing Exercises



Quitting smoking can be stressful and anxiety producing.

Practicing the technique of deep breathing helps to replace the satisfaction one would get when inhaling deeply on a cigarette.

But unlike cigarette smoking, deep breathing provides both a nourishing and a cleansing function for the body.

The oxygen brought in to the blood with inhalation is utilized by every cell. The waste product, carbon dioxide, is cleansed from the blood by exhalation. If this task is performed efficiently and effectively, a sense of calm can be created and maintained in the body and the mind.

Two breathing exercises that can be practiced safely by almost everyone are diaphragmatic breathing and the complete breath.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

  1. Sit comfortably in a chair.
  2. Place your left hand on the upper chest.
    Place your right hand on the abdomen.
  3. As you inhale, using the diaphragm, the belly will expand. Therefore, you will notice the right hand move. (The left hand should not move at all.)
  4. Breathe at a regular rhythm, and keep the breathing effortless as you inhale and exhale.

If this exercise is done while lying on the floor, you can place a piece of paper on the abdomen. If you are breathing properly with the diaphragm, the paper will rise and fall.

The Complete Breath

  1. Inhale using the diaphragm. Inhale through your nose.
  2. Smoothly and slowly continue the inhalation by letting the chest expand.
  3. Continue the inhalation until you cannot comfortably take in more air.  Hold the breath for a few seconds and then……..
  4. Exhale: by slowly letting your breath out through the mouth.
  5. Continue the exhalation by letting the chest wall and then the belly collapse as the diaphragm moves upward, pushing the air out of the lungs.
  6. Repeat the process two more times.