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Pursed-Lip Breathing

Content provided by: Better Medicine from Healthgrades

Pursed-lip breathing helps prevent shortness of breath. It helps you empty your lungs fully when you breathe out. The more air you breathe out, the more air you can breathe in. Practice the steps below. That way you'll know how to do pursed-lip breathing when you need it.

Step 1

  • Relax your neck and shoulders.

  • Breathe in slowly through your nose for 2 counts.

Step 2

  • Pucker your lips as if you were going to blow out a candle.

  • Breathe out slowly and gently through your lips for 4 counts.


  • Always breathe out for longer than you breathe in.

  • Never hold your breath between breathing in and breathing out.

When to Use Pursed-Lip Breathing

Use pursed-lip breathing whenever you're active. Breathe in first. Then breathe out as you move. You can also use pursed-lip breathing to help stop a panic attack.

Being Active

When you walk or do any activity, breathe in slowly and breathe out fully as you move.

Climbing Stairs

Breathe in slowly before you take a step. Then breathe out fully as you step up.

Bending, Lifting, and Reaching

Breathe in slowly first. Then breathe out as you bend down, lift, or reach.

Stopping a Panic Attack

Stop what you are doing. Sit down. Then lean forward and start pursed-lip breathing.

Medical Reviewer: Brian Carlin, MD, FAACVPR, Lana Hilling, RCP, FAACVPR Copyright: © 2000-2010 The StayWell Company, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

Reference: Lungs, Breathing and Respiration section on Better Medicine

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