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Breathing: Coughing Exercises


Thick, sticky mucus is difficult to cough up, especially with a weakened cough reflex. It is important that you drink enough fluids to keep your mucus thin and loose. Check with your physician to determine how much fluid you should drink daily to keep your cough effective.

Humidify your home or at least the room you sleep in and the room you spend most of your time in. Keep your humidifier clean as they are a possible source of infection.

Do not smoke as smoking take moisture out of your mucus and makes the mucus thicker.


Remember, control your coughing as uncontrolled coughing can make you short of breath. Discuss with your physician which type of coughing exercise is best for you.

You should perform these coughing maneuvers whenever you feel the need to cough or as instructed by your physician. A good controlled cough is especially helpful when you first get up in the morning and about an hour before bedtime. Have a cup of coffee or tea first (or other drink recommended by your physician) and relax.

Sit up straight in a chair when attempting these coughing exercises. Have a tissue handy.

Exercise A

1.    Sit up straight on a hard-backed, stable chair, relax.

2.    Take in 2-3 deep breaths through your nose and exhale slowly through pursed lips.

3.    Fold your arms across your abdomen.

4.    Take in a comfortable deep breath through your nose.

5.    Lean forward, pressing your arms against your abdomen and cough while leaning forward.

6.    Relax, rest 5-10 minutes

7.    Perform again if needed.

Exercise B

1.    Sit up straight, relax.

2.    Take in 2-3 breaths through your nose and exhale slowly through pursed lips.

3.    Take in a moderately deep breath, hold breath, expel air while saying H or K once.

4.    When you feel comfortable with this exercise, try and say the H or K 3-4 times while exhaling.


Check with your physician before beginning this or any exercise program.

To learn more about these special breathing exercises, see the stories listed under Breathing: Overview in the Library Index.

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Last modified: January 10, 2004