‘No matter what treatment you avail of and no matter what medications you take for your asthma, as long as you continue to overbreathe, you will continue to have asthma.’
The overall aims of breathing exercises are to increase the level of carbon dioxide in the alveoli, and to train the body to become accustomed to it. As indicated in previous chapters, our lungs require a concentration of between ﬁve per cent and six-and-a-half per cent carbon dioxide, equating to a control pause (CP), taken while at rest, of between forty and sixty seconds.
Most of those with an asthma problem will have a CP of between 10 and 20 seconds, and this points to a carbon dioxide level of between four and four-and-a-half per cent. As you can see, this is much lower than what the body requires.
To trap a higher level of carbon dioxide and to readjust the respiratory centre to this increased amount, exercises speciﬁcally aimed at reducing breathing are performed at speciﬁc times each day. These exercises should be continued until a reduced volume of breathing becomes a way of life, and until the control pause reaches at least forty seconds. When you are able to maintain a control pause of forty seconds, you will have mastered the art of correct breathing, it will be an unconscious activity, and will be incorporated into your daily life.
To increase the control pause to your interim target of twenty seconds, breathing exercises are essential. As you train yourself to breathe correctly, physical activity should be used in conjunction with breathing exercises to help increase the control pause from twenty to your ultimate aim of forty seconds.
The objectives of these exercises are:
✦ To lower the incidence of asthma attacks.
✦ To halt an attack at the ﬁrst sign of symptoms. For example, a simple blocked nose is one of the ﬁrst signs of an attack.
The most important requirement before starting these exercises is to be aware of your breathing. If you are not aware of your breathing, you will not be able to reduce the volume of air drawn in and consequently you will not ex- perience any improvement at all. We are going to go through some breathing exercises in the next few blog entries. Choosing the most appropriate depends on a number of factors, such as whether you are an adult or a child, whether you have mild or severe asthma, whether you are having an attack or not, and whether or not you are physically exercising at the time.