My spinal cord getting slowly damaged from T5-T8 over the decades means that pretty much every muscle below my armpits are weakened in some way. Lungs rely on a lot of muscles and even getting aerobic exercise won’t necessarily strengthen those muscles.
Starting in September of last year I began exercising them with this simple “respiratory muscle trainer”: The Breather.
When I told my PT I had bought one of these he said I was the first patient who ever actually asked about them. He often recommends these sorts of devices to his patients who are pro athletes who need to work on their breathing. His recommendation of how to use it was pretty different from the directions:
- 30 breaths – fairly fast – less than one second apart
- Twice a day
- Stick with one setting until it is easy and then ramp it up
It takes me less than two minutes a day and it may have been one of the best exercises I started doing. I began on the lowest setting (1 on inhale and 1 on exhale) and couldn’t even do 30 breaths without stopping. It has now been 6 months and just yesterday I cranked it up to the highest setting (6 inhale and 5 exhale). I have no idea how much this will help if and when I get COVID-19, but I can definitely feel the improvement in my lungs when swimming.
There is also a pro version (The Breather Fit) which I guess I may get once this version is too easy. They seem to have raised their prices though and there are a number of other competitors.