Breathing Exercises For Seniors:

It’s incredible how something as simple as breathing can be a powerful tool for calming your nerves and increasing mindful awareness. This simple repetitive act we perform over and over involuntarily (most of the time), may be key to helping you calm your nerves and relax the mind. Welcome to “breathing exercises for seniors”.

Breathing Exercises for Seniors


Think about how you breath when your body is in a relaxed state. It’s usually slow and steady. With stress, comes increased breath. Oftentimes, more shallow. Deep breathing can bode well for any individual, but may be even better for older adults. The sensation of deep breathing can help to remind the body how it feels in a more relaxed state. 

Much of the bodies response to deep breathing is due to signals that are being sent to the brain. In short, these signals stimulate parts of the brain responsible for rest/relaxation and or recovery (autonomic nervous system).

Now, back to breathing exercises for seniors, specifically!

While breathing alone may not have huge effects; when you take this movement and make voluntary changes, it may be quite powerful. Learning different breathing exercises for seniors, and controlled breathing may be quite helpful.

As we age, our respiratory function can become more compromised. Namely, due to issues such as respiratory muscle weakness, comorbidities, etc. Muscles that support our breathing like the diaphragm can weaken. That being said, weakened respiratory muscles and/or increased stiffness, can result in more labored breathing and/or shallow breathing. Poor oxygenation can be one of the many culprits to feelings of anxiousness.

Indeed, this is where breathing exercises, can be helpful. Furthermore, it can be done in your home, which is also an advantage.

One study, looked specifically at inspiratory muscle training and yoga breathing exercises. In conclusion, yoga respiratory training was deemed as effective, as well as well-tolerated for frail older adults. 

In this article we’ll discuss some common breathing exercises seniors can perform. Thus, in hopes, leading to an increase in quality of life, as well as an enhanced mental state.


Here are some exercises to help get you started, with a guide!


I. Sitting Breathing Exercise

Sitting-breathing exercises for seniors can be beneficial. Some older adults may be prone to getting light-headed or have difficulty standing for an extended period of time. Sitting-breathing exercises can be a great place to start. Likewise, there are several forms of exercises we can discuss. However, for this sitting-breathing exercises, we’ll talk “belly” breathing. 



1. This exercise can be done sitting on a chair, the floor or even lying down supine. Do what is comfortable for you. 

2. Firstly, take one of your hands and place it on your belly. This should be roughly below your ribcage, but above your naval.

3. Then, place the alternate hand on your chest. 

4. Now, take an extended breath (or inhale) through your nares, noting the hand on your belly rising. Alternatively, the hand on your chest, should be stationary. 

5. Just as you inhaled slowly, attempt to exhale slowly as well, doing so through pursed-lip breathing. (Tighten your lips like you’re whistling). 

6. With this motion, you should now feel the hand on your belly falling or going-in. You can gently push on your belly to expel all the air. 

7. Repeat 10-20 times


Breathing exercises, like, diaphragmatic breathing is used heavily in practices like transcendental meditation and other forms of meditation

In fact, it has shown to have positive effects on things like heart rate and blood pressureTypes of deep breathing such as this is known to effect the brain, cardiovascular system, respiratory system and gastrointestinal system, through control of the autonomic nervous system. 

Not only can this type of breathing be positive from a physiological perspective, but also from a psychological perspective. Hence, why we include it as a breathing exercise for seniors, specifically. 


II. Thoracic Breathing

This is another great breathing exercise for seniors. It can be an exercise to help build some endurance in the respiratory and supporting muscle groups.



1. Start this exercise seated or standing. Place one hand, again, on your chest/thorax area.

2. Then, place your other hand on your abdomen.

3. Begin to inhale through your nares. As you inhale, focus on your ribcage, trying to send air through that area, instead of your abdomen.

4. Inhale slowly, and deeply. The hand over your chest should rise. With this breathing exercise for seniors, attempt to use your thorax and not your ‘belly’.

5. Your other hand (over your abdomen) should remain motionless as much as possible. 

6. Now let your breath out, exhale. 

7. Repeat 10-20 times


III. Humming Breathing

The last breathing exercises we’ll discuss today for seniors is known as humming breathing. This type of breathing is also called bee breath. Furthermore, the extended period of exhalation vs. inhalation may help to decrease ‘fight or flight’ response and relax sooner. 



1. Firstly, you’ll want to be in a seated position. Sit as upright as possible, shoulders relaxed.

2. After you’ve exhaled as much as possible, relax your body and slowly take a deep breath in through your nares. 

3. With your lungs completely full, or as full as possible, release the air, and as you exhale, hum. Mmmmmmmmmmm……

4. You can also try and contract the stomach muscles as you exhale.

5. Continue until all air is expelled. Repeat

6. Do this 10-15 times


Final Thoughts On Breathing Exercises For Adults!

These are some simple, straightforward breathing exercises perfect for older individuals. Consequently, helping create a better sense of calm, both mentally and physically. These types of breathing exercises for seniors may also help lead to better focus, while also helping to strengthen muscles that are paramount for better breathing habits!