How Blowing Up a Balloon Improves Breathing

Breathing and Exercise

Activity isn’t always about moving at warp speed or hefting a big dumbbell. Inhaling and exhaling are resistance exercises that exercise our respiratory muscles. Blowing up a balloon can do wonders to strengthen our lungs.

Whether we are healthy, or with any condition, and at any age, lung capacity is important. But many of us are shallow chest breathers, inhaling through our mouths, not taking in enough air. We also use our shoulder and neck muscles to expand our lungs. Shallow breathing results in neck pain, headaches, and an increased risk of injury. Shallow breathing can also cause panic attacks, dry mouth, and fatigue.

If we hold our breath when we exercise (the “Valsalva” effect), we can cause dizziness, nausea, or even a heart attack.

Common Breathing Problems

Frequently, beginning exercisers hold their breath while doing an exercise. This creates an oxygen deficiency and can cause dizziness. Sometimes people resort to shallow, quick breaths. But that forces a body to work overtime.

Breathing Benefits of Blowing Up Balloons

Strong, diaphragmatic breathing can lower blood pressure, relax muscles, and decrease stress. By blowing up a balloon, we can build lung capacity and stamina. And workout efficiency increases when we exhale as we exert force and inhale as we release it.

Blowing up a Balloon Breathing Exercise

Starting Position: Sit upright and hold the balloon in one hand.


  1. Inhale through your nose for a 3 to 4 second count, with as much air as possible, pushing out your belly.
  2. Blow (exhale) into the balloon, feeling your deep abdominal muscles activate.
  3. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until the balloon is fully inflated. Note: A 12-inch diameter balloon takes 4-6 breaths to fully inflate.


  • After each exhalation into the balloon, seal the balloon’s mouth by pressing your tongue up to the roof of your mouth. This will activate your abdominal muscles in between exhalations.

Targets: lungs, abdominals, spine

Breathing Helps Build Core Strength

Employing stomach-based, diaphragmatic breaths is the key to building core strength. Breathing is a bodyweight exercise that lengthens the transverse abdominis muscles and obliques, which helps build core strength. Breathing correctly can increase flexibility and lower the risk of exercise-related injury. Also, a strong core helps with things like balance, and, oh yeah… it makes you look thinner.

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Jacqueline Gikow, is a movement/fitness coach, medical fitness specialist, and health and wellness coach. Her holistic, health and wellness practice, Audacious Living NYC™, centers on pain relief through better movement. She is certified through the National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM), the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBCHWC), the Functional Aging Institute (FAI), Medfit (MFN), and the Arthritis Foundation (AFAP/AFEP). Her fitness practice includes in-home and remote, one-on-one fitness training and coaching in New York City. Jacqueline can be reached at: Her fitness group, on Facebook, is