The Covid virus can mutate rapidly which means it can attack newer hosts faster than before. While the Covid virus targeted the older population during the first wave, the second wave has been found to affect more of the younger working population. It is expected that the third wave will affect children more as most adults have been infected by the virus and/or immunised to it by some degree.
Happy Hypoxia has been found occur often during this pandemic. It is commonly found in kids as their immunity is high and they are relatively playful; it is when they do not show signs and symptoms of breathlessness till their oxygen levels drop significantly. Catastrophically, by then the disease progresses and affects the lungs.
During this time, breathing exercises become important as they help improve the lung’s capacity and reduce the impact of the Covid-19 virus.
As parents, encourage your kids to do these fun-filled breathing activities which they will enjoy while they are indoors during the lockdowns.
- Belly breathing: Make your child lie down. Place a stuffed toy on his belly. Ask them to take a deep breath through the nose for 5 counts as the stuffed animal gently swings up as their lungs fill with air. Then on another count of 5, let them breathe out. This is a fun activity as they watch their belly go up and down through the exercise.
- Paint the town Red: A family time activity. All the family members sit with a white sheet of paper and do some blow painting. Put some blobs of watercolor on the paper, take a straw and blow the paint in any direction. In the end, each one can see what beautiful objects they have created unknowingly. This increases the lung capacity of the kid and calms the child.
- Smelling Flowers: Ask your munchkin to imagine they are smelling a flower/or give a real one. They can breathe in deeply through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Smelling flowers is a rejuvenating exercise which kids love to do.
- Feather breathing: All you need for this one is a few fun colour feathers for your child and let them pick any one of them. Ask them to breathe in deeply and hold this for 3 counts keeping one side of the feather against their mouth. Repeat the exercise by changing the side of the feather.
- Rainbow breathing: This is an energetic breathing technique with movements and breath control. Ask your little angel to start with arms at the side of his body. The arms go up as he breathes in and down as he breathes out, (arms make a rainbow). He can call out a particular colour of the rainbow and continue with imaginary painting that colour with his arms while breathing.
- Water/Soap Bubbles: Have your little one make bubbles in a cup of water through a straw or with the soap bubble toy. Encourage them to blow gently in order to get a proper and big bubble. Let them take in a deep breath and with a soft and long exhale, blow out to create a beautiful bubble.
- Honey bee breath: Ensure that the child is seated at ease. With the mouth closed, let them take in a breath through the nose. In this position, let them make a buzzing or humming sounds (similar to that of a bumblebee) and exhale. This exercise is particularly beneficial for children with asthma. To make it more fun, covering the ears will help increase the sound and vibration of the buzz as extra entertainment for the child.
- Blow candle/Balloons: Have your kid blow out the candles on an imaginary birthday cake, drawing a deep breath in through the nose, and blowing them out strongly through their mouth. They can even compete amongst each other with respect to who blows maximum number of birthday balloons.
- Dragon Breath: Have your child interlace their fingers under their chin, and as they inhale through their nose, have them raise their elbows as high as they can around their neck and face. On exhaling out as if whistling through mouth, ask them to lower their elbows back down. Dragon breathing assists to dislodge the mucus/phlegm from the lungs. Into the bargain, it enhances chest expansion and gives a good stretch to the rib cage.
- Woodchopper breathing: Have your little one clasp their hands together in front of their body. Take a long breath in while raising hands above their head. Then, on a vigorous exhale with mouth open, as if fogging on a glass, forcefully take hands down and bend down towards the legs. Drop the head and completely and let go of all the tension in the body. Woodchopper breathing is a natural decongestant which helps in expectorating the mucus out, furthermore, freeing the lungs from infection.
All the exercises can be done in a play and reward form, competing with siblings, parents, or friends. Any of the above 5 exercises with a 5-10 repetitions of 2 sets per day or per your childs ‘comfort, would take your kid a long way from infection.
God has given us a window of opportunity to save our kids, let us make the best use of it without any delay. Happy & Safe Breathing!
Article by Palak Dengla, Senior Physiotherapist, Aster RV Hospital