Diaphragmatic Breathing

n/a 1 10-20 3 count Inhale: 3 count exhale Your Choice
LOAD n/a
REPS 10-20
TEMPO 3 count Inhale: 3 count exhale
REST Your Choice


  • Encourages relaxation while decreasing sympathetic tone (Fight or Flight).
  • Prepares the core for exercise as this type of breathing stimulates the deep muscles of the core.
  • Can help to release tight muscles around the shoulders, low back and hips.
  • Can be used as a mindfulness mediation. Mindfulness has been shown to lower anxiety levels, which have been linked to heart disease.

Targeted Muscles

  • Diaphragm
  • Deep Core Abdominal Muscles
  • Intercostal (Rib) Musculature
  • Pelvic Floor Musculature

How to Perform

  1. Begin lying face up on a mat.
  2. Bend your knees and place one hand on your lower abdomen and one hand on your chest.
  3. For the first 2/3rd’s of the inhale, breathe into your lower hand so it rises towards the ceiling and out to the sides, expanding the abdomen.
  4. For the last 1/3rd of the inhale, breathe into the upper hand, expanding the chest and rib cage three dimensionally.
  5. Without effort, simply exhale a long slow breath.
  6. Relax any tight muscles around your neck and shoulders with each exhale.

Common Challenges

  • For some it will take time to master diaphragmatic breathing. The muscles around the pelvis, abdomen and chest can be tight, leading most to take breaths from the shoulders and neck. Through repetition, the diaphragm’s function will provide greater flexibility allowing for deeper and longer breaths.

Alternative Exercise Suggestions for Patients with an ICD

Keep arms no higher than shoulder level.