Pursed Lip Breathing Exercise to Reduce Shortness of Breath



      • To help people learn more about shortness of breath.
      • To help people understand the benefits of pursed lip breathing exercises to decrease breathlessness.
      • To provide instructions to perform pursed lip breathing as well as provide resources for those affected by shortness of breath.
      Important note: Notify your medical provider if you are experiencing shortness of breath. Please consult your physician first to check if this breathing exercise is right for you and/or if you experience problems with this breathing exercise.

      What is shortness of breath?

      Who experiences shortness of breath?

      A more complete list of medical conditions that cause shortness of breath is available from the Mayo Clinic at

      When should I worry about shortness of breath?

      • According to the American Lung Association, shortness of breath with chest pain or pressure, nausea, or fainting may be a sign of a serious medical condition.
        American Lung Association (in partnership with the CHEST foundation)
        Learn about shortness of breath.
      • Please view additional resources at the end of this education page on what causes shortness of breath, when shortness of breath is a medical problem, when to contact your physician, when to seek emergency medical care, how to get help for shortness of breath, and other information related to shortness of breath.

      What is pursed lip breathing and why is it important?

      How is pursed lip breathing performed?

      Additional resources

      Rush University. Dyspnea (shortness of breath). Available at
      Lung Institute. What is dyspnea, and when should it concern you? Available at


      This page was developed by Archana Vatwani, PT, DPT, MBA, AIB-CCON, CLWT, CDP (e-mail address: [email protected] ).


      This information is not meant to replace the advice from a medical professional. The information presented serves as a general guideline and is not meant to be an exhaustive list of recommendations. Consult your health care provider regarding specific medical conditions, concerns, and/or treatment(s). This Information/Education Page may be reproduced for noncommercial use to share with patients and their caregivers. Any other reproduction is subject to approval by the publisher.


      I thank Peter Sprague, PT, DPT, OCS, and Rania Margonis, PT, DPT, for their assistance.


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        • Mayo Clinic
        Shortness of breath.
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        • American Lung Association (in partnership with the CHEST foundation)
        Learn about shortness of breath.
        (Available at:) (Accessed October 11, 2017)
        • Hillegass E.A.
        Essentials of cardiopulmonary physical therapy.
        Elsevier, St. Louis, MO2017
        • Cleveland Clinic
        Pursed lip breathing.
        (Available at:) (Accessed September 28, 2017)
        • Reid W.D.
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        • American Lung Association
        Breathing exercises.
        (Available at:) (Accessed October 12, 2017)