Five top tips for improving your lung health

6 December 2023

What can we do to give ourselves the best chance of coping well with chest infection?

Infections like Covid-19, flu and other respiratory diseases can make you feel breathless and unwell and affect your lung function. Physiotherapist Jody Barber recommends taking the time now to expand your lungs, exercise your chest muscles and improve oxygen levels in your blood and brain. That way you will be more resilient to infection, should you catch something.

Physical exercise is the first thing people think of when they are thinking of ways to get fit or expand their lungs. Getting a little out of breath is helpful in getting your lungs fit, but some people with MS struggle to exercise to this point. 

Here are some other options that will make a difference to your lung health, and perhaps also keep you entertained…

  1. Stop smoking. The serious news is that smokers are 14 times more likely to die of Covid-19 than non-smokers. The good news is that you can improve your blood circulation, immune system health and oxygen levels in the blood within 2-12 weeks of stopping. The NHS has excellent resources for you if you want to take this as the perfect incentive to quit. Read our page on smoking and MS for more information.
  2. Sing! Belting out a show tune, football chant or pop hit does wonders for your mood as well as your lungs and breathing muscles. Joining a choir can be a brilliant way to socialise too.
  3. Laugh! There’s nothing like a belly laugh for chasing the blues away, and laughter is good for lung health too. Find your favourite comedians or comedy shows online or on TV, tune in to a comedy podcast or radio show, or just have a knock-knock joke competition with your family. If you need convincing, read Will Berard’s thoughts on the importance of humour in a difficult time.
  4. Simple breathing exercises, done several times a day, can significantly expand your lung capacity. Our website has breathing exercises you can try. Your physiotherapist may have some specific recommendations for you, or you can try the stacked breathing exercise demonstrated by Jody in the video above.
  5. Kazoos aren’t just toys for kids – making music with one of these buzzy little instruments really gets the far reaches of your lungs stretched and active. Cheap and readily available online, can you and your family perform a favourite tune for us on a kazoo ensemble? (See also tip number 3) Share your musical talents with us at and spread that happiness around!

Regular respiratory exercise will help you avoid deconditioning, which is where your breathing muscles get weaker with inactivity, but will also give you the best chance of coping with a lung infection.

Jody Barber, Physiotherapist