For many years, Kmiecik served patients in various hospital and home care settings in and around Cleveland, Ohio. His book grew out of those years of experience as an occupational therapist.

The focus is the rehabilitation of patients who have suffered shortness of breath and fatigue during activities of regular daily living. His occupational therapy program educates people on the deficiencies of their breathing and helps them to learn how to relax and improve their endurance. 

The author’s “puffy cheeks” breathing technique is especially important in helping individuals relax, in particular at the very onset of shortness of breath. With regular practice, this technique becomes immediately available and can alter, or even replace the anxiety caused by initial stress or distress.

There is a point in the body, at the lower end of the lung cavity, where the oxygen-to-blood transfer takes place. In Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease patients, the breathing is often compromised because there may be airway obstruction, or the person has, for various reasons, become used to ineffective breathing. As a result, either consciously or unconsciously, the person is not removing all of the old air trapped inside his or her lungs. 

Breathe to Function explains three specific techniques to breathe deeper and improve labored breathing: a“puffy cheeks” breathing exercise, a rib cage breathing exercise and a diaphragm breathing exercise.

Kmiecik explains all of the above breathing techniques, how to do them, and why they are useful. He stresses that, if you can learn to expend less energy in the breathing process, you will help yourself to conserve the energy needed for your regular activities.

This book is a very accessible book. I enjoyed the way Kmiecik, having explained the exercises and their importance, relates how the breathing techniques may be applied to the way we do daily activities, such as working in the kitchen. He shows clearly the intake of the breath, the physical action, such as bending, the expelling of the breath. Each physical movement is closely linked to the rhythm of the breathing. 

By raising one’s arms above the head and sitting or standing tall, for example, one can increase the lung space so that oxygenated air can more easily go down deeper into the lungs. Again, the reader learns how to apply the most effective body posture to enable the most effective breathing. If you are using energy-conserving techniques, it follows that you will feel stronger, improve your endurance, and feel more confident about the challenges your daily activity presents.

Many of us are fortunate to take proper breathing and physical activity for granted, but for those who cannot, the book is an invaluable resource. The offered techniques are easily learned and improvement over time can be explicitly felt and measured. 

The author offers additional aids that can be viewed in his online visual demonstrations. They are referenced throughout the book. I have viewed Kmiecik’s “puffy cheeks” breathing demonstration and found it to be absolutely clear and useful when applied in my daily life at moments I find myself short of breath. 

Breathe to Function is available in both Paperback and Kindle version. The book is available on Amazon and has received 5-star ratings. 

Breathe To Function: An Occupational Therapist’s Guide to Managing Shortness Of Breath 

By Chris Kmiecik; Halo Publishing International (2020)

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