10 Best Exercises To Increase Lung Capacity

Medically Reviewed By Randall Holmes, D.C
Written by Charushila Biswas
ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition

Did you know that even your lungs need exercise to stay healthy and for your body to function normally? Your body needs oxygen for survival. Every activity in the body is dependent on oxygen, including the metabolic functioning of cells. The lungs perform the task of delivering oxygen to every part of the body. And, by practicing a few exercises regularly, you can train your lungs to increase their capacity, which will help you inhale more oxygen. This will, in turn, protect the body from various breathing disorders, help increase stamina, and ensure every part of the body gets adequate oxygen. So, scroll right down and check out these super efficient exercises to increase your lung capacity.

Exercises To Increase Lung Capacity

Warm Up

A warm up is necessary before doing any exercise.So, let’s warm up before starting the exercises to increase lung capacity.

  • Head Tilt (left and right) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Head Nod (up and down) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Neck stretch
  • Arm circles – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Shoulder circles – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Waist circles – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Bend over and touch toes – 1 set of 5 reps
  • Calf raise – 1 set of 20 reps
  • Interlock your fingers, extend your hands forward and pull your shoulders back.
  • Slow spot jogging – 1 set of 20 reps

Now you are set and can start the lung exercises. Here’s what you must do.

1. Abdominal Breathing

Abdominal breathing is an excellent exercise when it comes to increasing the lung capacity. Here’s a step by step explanation. You can also click on the video link to watch how to do abdominal breathing exercise correctly.

Steps To Do Abdominal Breathing

  1.  Lie down on your back with one hand on the abdomen and the other on the chest.
  2. You can place a pillow underneath your knees.
  3. Breathe in through the nose, hold your breath, and exhale through the mouth.
  4. Try and squeeze your abdominal muscles in the end to remove any residual air from your lungs.
  5. Do this 10 times and then come to a seated position.
  6. Relax your shoulders, keep your back straight, and practice abdominal breathing.


5 minutes every day.

2. Rib Stretch

This exercise is all about breathing through the lungs so that your ribs expand and contract as you inhale and exhale. This also trains your lungs to inhale the maximum amount of oxygen. There’s a step by step description of how you stretch your ribs, but you can also watch this video.

Steps To Do Rib Stretching Exercise

  1. In the rib stretch, you have to stand upright, with your back erect, and exhale all the oxygen from your lungs.
  2. Breathe in slowly and hold as much air in your lungs as you can.
  3. Hold your breath for 10 to 15 seconds before exhaling slowly.
  4. Do this exercise three times a day to improve lung capacity.
  5. Place your hands on your waist and bend on each side alternately.
  6. Bring your hands overhead. Bring the left hand back to your left waist and bend towards your left to feel the stretch on your right side.
  7. Do the same on the other side. Repeat this a few times.
  8. Finish with a few more rib stretch breaths.


2-5 minutes every day.

3. Numbered Breath

This exercise will help you if you are suffering from COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) or just want to increase your lung capacity. Following are a video and a step by step description of this highly effective breathing exercise.

Steps To Do Numbered Breathing Exercise

  1. Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Breathe in through your nose for 2 seconds and while breathing out, purse your lips and exhale for 4 seconds.
  3. Add a little variation to this exercise by clasping your hands together and extending your arms in front of your chest.
  4. Breathe in through your nose, and while breathing out, twist towards your left and then to your right. Do this for as long as you exhale. Make sure the duration of exhalation is longer than that of inhalation.
  5. Another variation is to flex your elbows and put your fingers on your shoulders (like a chicken) and inhale. While exhaling, do a set of arm circles.
  6. Now, do the abdominal breathing for 1 minute.
  7. Finally, end it with forceful breathing.


5 minutes every day.

4. Oriental Breath

Oriental breath is yet another breathing exercise that helps the lungs work efficiently and optimally. It can also help you lose weight. Here’s a video demonstrating it.

Steps To Do Oriental Breath Exercise

  1. Stand with your right leg in front of your left leg.
  2. Squeeze your glutes, lean slightly backward, and keep your shoulders relaxed.
  3. Inhale in 3 seconds. You can move your arms from your sides to over your head as you inhale.
  4. Pause for a moment and then exhale suddenly with force. Move your hands from over your head to the sides as you exhale.
  5. Repeat this 3-5 times.


2 minutes every day.

5. Pushing Out

Pushing out is a super powerful breathing exercise that increases the capacity of your lungs to absorb oxygen. Here are a video and a step by step description of how to do it correctly.

Steps To Do Pushing Out Exercise

  1. Stand in an upright posture and loosen your knees.
  2. Bend down as you push out all the air from your lungs.
  3. Get back to the standing position, breathing in the air.
  4. Fill your lungs with as much air as possible and hold your breath as long as you can.
  5. Extend your arm over your head and lower back to the starting position while exhaling. Do this exercise 4 times daily.


1 minute every day.

6. Lung Strengthening Pranayama

Anulom-vilom is a pranayama that can help improve your lung capacity. Doing it correctly can be challenging in the beginning, but practice will make you perfect. Here’s a video to guide you.

Steps To Do Anulom Vilom

  1. Sit in the Lotus Position. Keep your back straight and core engaged.
  2. Close your left nostril with the ring finger of your left hand.
  3. Take a deep and slow breath through your right nostril.
  4. Now, close your right nostril with your thumb and simultaneously open your left nostril by moving your ring finger away.
  5. Slowly exhale through your left nostril.
  6. Take a deep and slow breath from your left nostril.
  7. Again, close your left nostril with the ring finger and simultaneously open the right nostril by moving your thumb away. Slowly exhale.
  8. Do this 10 times.


5-7 minutes every day.

7. Aerobics

Image: Shutterstock

Aerobic exercises play a significant role in enhancing lung capacity by making large muscle groups move at a rhythmic speed (1). They strengthen your heart and lungs and also play a role in improving the endurance of the body. Hence, the body will be able to use oxygen more efficiently, and it also can enhance your breathing. You should take long, brisk walks daily. Stationary biking is another type of aerobic exercise that helps improve lung capacity.


20 minutes every day.

8. Water-Based Exercises

Image: Shutterstock

Water workouts make your body work harder because water acts as a source of resistance. This helps in strengthening the lungs. You may do weight lifting and stretching exercises in water. A person needs to have a routine till she gets comfortable with exercising in water.

Ensure the water is neck deep while exercising. It is important to take quick breaths because you would feel the compression of your body. With regular practice, this will help in tremendously increasing the efficiency of lungs.


20 minutes every day

9. Cardio Exercise

Image: Shutterstock

The lung capacity increases manifold with cardio exercises. One needs a minimum of 30 minutes of workout to remain fit. The basic principle lies in the fact that when a person gets tired doing a fast and brisk workout, his lungs have to work harder. This enhances their capacity.

There are many cardiovascular exercises you can do with ease. Some of the best cardio exercises to expand lung capacity are running, jogging, and swimming. You can even hit the gym to work out on heavy machines. Just make sure you warm up and cool down before and after the workout.


20 minutes every day.

10. Workout At High Elevation

Image: Shutterstock

The oxygen content at high altitudes is less, and hence, your lung capacity greatly increases if you workout in such altitudes. You need to start slow as it is tough to exercise at higher elevations. You need to give your body at least two weeks to acclimatize to the altitude. Ensure you take assistance from a qualified instructor as unsupervised workout could increase the chances of altitude sickness.


20 minutes every day.

These were the 10 lung capacity increasing exercises. But I have few more points to add. Take a look.


  1. Ensure your breath is steady and slow every time you do any breathing exercise. While exhaling, your lungs should be emptied completely.
  2. Always sit upright while performing breathing exercises.
  3. Exercise regularly.
  4. You can also learn to play a wind instrument to increase your lung capacity.
  5. If the wind instrument is not your thing, you can learn to sing or join a choir group to increase your lung capacity.
  6. If you splash some water on your face while doing breathing exercises, it will increase your heart rate, and the movement of oxygen throughout the body will become easier.
  7. Take necessary precautions while holding your breath. Learn to relax your muscles, especially while doing breathing exercises.
  8. Adjust your body to the surroundings and temperature. This is also known as acclimatizing the body.
  9. Start with small sets and slowly increase the duration of the exercise.
  10. Consume antioxidant-rich foods.
  11. Always follow safety precautions, especially during water exercises.

Warnings And Precautions

  • Stop smoking or being around smokers.
  • Do not overexert your body.
  • Practice proper techniques to breathe in and breathe out.

Many people feel they do not need to increase their lung capacity until the time a simple and short exercise like playing with their kids or running with pets tires them and leaves them breathless. They can now do these exercises to increase their lung capacity and enjoy their leisure time with their loved ones without experiencing shortness of breath and fatigue.

Do let us know how this post helped you. Share your feedback by commenting in the box below.

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Charushila Biswas is a Senior Content Writer and an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition. She is an alumni of VIT University, Vellore and has worked on transgenic wheat as a part of her Masters dissertation from NRCPB (IARI), New Delhi. After completing her Masters, she developed a passion for nutrition and fitness, which are closely related to human psychology. This prompted her to author a review article in 2015. She has written over 200 articles on Fitness and Nutrition. In her leisure time, Charushila loves to cook and enjoys mobile photography.