Breathing Exercises to Help During COVID

I've just recovery from COVID-19 and I'm writing this blog as a way to share what breathing techniques I used to help me recover. These are breathing exercises based on the scientifically proven Oxygen Advantage exercises but are in no way a cure for COVID or deemed to be medical advise or a substitute for medication.

I am simply offering my own personal experience and how I applied the science of the Oxygen Advantage breathing techniques to this illness.


Firstly for context, this is the first time that I've knowing contracted COVID and I am unvaccinated.

I first started with symptoms during the evening of 17th December having run a 7hr charity ultra-marathon (60km), which in hind-sight was a terrible idea in terms of giving my immune system chance to fight off COVID. So as I was trying to recover from the illness I was also recovering from a 60km ultra-marathon.

But that was my situation.

So I started with a headache on Saturday 17th December and was laid up in bed for a couple of days, didn't each much and found sleep at night hard due to body temperature regulation and sore throat. By 21st I was starting to feel a little better, with just a sore throat and some fatigue lingering and then yesterday I felt nearly normal. Today I'm writing this blog on 23rd December feeling normal (yet still testing positive on lateral flow test).


For the first couple of evenings I felt so terrible I found it very difficult to breathe through my nose. We know that mouth breathing is linked to our stress response and sympathetic dominance not being part of the healing or rest and restore processes. 

Being able to un-block the nose utilising nitric oxide a vasodilator, which the bacteria in the nose creates, was a game changer for nasal breathing over these challenging days. It's a very simple exercise breath-hold exercise where you:
  • Take a normal inhale and then normal exhale.
  • Then pinch the nose and hold the breath.
  • Nod the head for 10 to 15 head nods whilst holding the breath (don't make it stressful or challenging).
  • Then leg go of the nose and breathe in through the nose.
  • Do this 2 or 3 times to clear the nose.


The first couple of nights I didn't feel comfortable enough to tape my mouth at night like i normally would. I could feel might heart beating faster and my breathing being challenged just lying in bed as my body was fighting off the illness. So I didn't force myself to but knew that my breathing would be negatively affected.

My normal BOLT score dropped from 26-30 second average to 14 seconds, which is a huge drop and quickly, showing the huge effects that illness and stress can have on our breathing. And therefore how important breathing is to help illness and reduce stress. 

My BOLT is now back to 27 seconds today (23rd December) and I focused on just so simple exercises to help restore my breathing which I feel helped my nervous system stay calm so I could fight off the illness effectively.


The best thing about these two exercises are they are so simple that anyone can do to help improve their breathing, no matter how bad you feel, even at my worst in this illness I was able to do both.

They are best done in the following order, for ease of practise; first exercises is called many short breat-holds and the second is extended exhale humming.

Many short breath-holds I always coach my clients to start with simple 3 second pauses that are separated by 2 normal breaths. The 3 second pause is after the exhale. When 3 seconds feels easy increase to 4 seconds and then when that is a calm pause then increase to 5 seconds. You can perform this exercise for just a few minutes or however long you are feeling the calming benefits.

Many Short Breath-holds
  • Breathe in normally through the nose and exhale through the nose
  • Pause and hold the breath for 3 seconds
  • Then breathe in through the nose and take 2 normal breaths
  • Exhale through the nose and pause again for 3 seconds
  • Keep repeating for a few minutes

The other exercise that I suggest doing secondary to this is slowing down the exhale with humming. This is a little harder to do initially, which is why i suggest it after you've done the short pauses which helps you t clam your breath.

Extending our exhales and slowing our breathing helps to activate our parasympathetic response. The slower breathing releases a hormone called Acetylcholine which is a neurotransmitter. It slows the heart rate and calms the nervous system.

The humming is a simple way to naturally extend our exhalations and has the added benefit for stimulating the vagus nerve as the vibration from the voice box create by the humming innovate the vagus nerve as it runs through the voice box one it's journey from the brain to the rest of the body as it visit all the vital internal organs.

Extended Exhale Humming
  • First focus on the airflow in and out through the nose as you let your breath settle
  • Listen to the sounds your breath in making
  • Try to quieten your breath
  • Once your breath become silent on the inhale keep it that way
  • Then start humming on your exhales
  • Keep the inhale silent through the nose
  • Naturally extend the exhale with your humming
  • Don't force the humming, simple let it happen gently.

After a few minutes of extended exhale humming you should notice a build up of saliva in the mouth as a sign of the rest and digestion system being activated. You should also feel a sense of calm and relaxation.

I hope you have found this blog helpful. I really hope you don't contract this awful illness but if you do my hope is these simple breathing exercises will be able to help you as they have done me.

Keep it nasal

Created with