Playing Harmonica With Asthma: Is It Possible?
Asthma can make many of your everyday life activities a challenge, but it still shouldn’t stop you from doing the things you love. Whether it’s physical exercise or playing a musical instrument like the harmonica, you should still be able to participate in the activities you love.
It is possible for you to play harmonica even if you have asthma. There has actually been some evidence to show that people with asthma can even see improvements in their lung condition by playing the instrument.
It may be difficult at first, but playing the harmonica can act as good breathing exercises for your asthma. Since this is the case, your breathing and lungs will adapt to the instrument, and you can enjoy learning new hobbies or continuing with longstanding ones. Continue reading to understand how possible and beneficial it can be to play the harmonica if you have asthma.
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Is it Possible to Play the Harmonica with Asthma?
Since asthma restricts the ability to get good airflow into and out of the lungs, it may seem harder to believe that playing the harmonica is still an option for patients with the medical condition. But the matter of fact is, playing the harmonica is more than possible for people with asthma.
Over time, asthma patients can also increase their ability to exercise and do everyday activities with regular playing. With the addition of breathing exercises and trying to incorporate those activities with the harmonica, asthmatic people will slowly start to notice advancements in being able to do more physically.
However, since asthma causes a narrowing of air and pathways, some activities will prove an extra challenge. Despite this, though, the harmonica can certainly help you overcome those obstacles.
Science Theoretically Shows Harmonica Playing Helps Asthma
A clinical study showed improvements in asthmatic conditions among a group of participants. Eligible participants had done some form of lung rehabilitation at least six months prior and were subject to a 12-week program of harmonica playing.
Each person was taken through a test before and after the program, indicating maximum, inspired pressure (max force and capacity of inhalation), maximum expired pressure (max force and capacity of exhalation), and a 6-minute walk test.
After the pre-tests, completing the 12-week program, and the post-tests, the results for each subject are as follows:
- Every single participant saw a significant increase in both inhalation and exhalation pressures.
- Every single participant saw a significant improvement in the 6-minute walk test.
This study shows irrefutably that playing the harmonica for COPD/asthmatic conditions is not only possible but is encouraged and can help improve health by doing so.
How Playing Harmonica Can Help your Asthma
Through early application and clinical studies, it has been proven that playing an instrument like the harmonica can improve the debilitating conditions one might experience with asthma. Researchers have noted the relationship between chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and playing the harmonica.
As a patient with asthma, it is critical to ensure you have strong lungs and constantly improve your breathing. Breathing exercises can be exponentially helpful in increasing one’s lung capacity as well as inhalation and exhalation forces.
Some respiratory therapists believe that playing the harmonica is potentially one of the greatest lung exercises for people with asthma. This often gets recommended because it requires slow, deep, and complete breaths.
Breathing Exercises to Try with the Harmonica
As you know by now, the harmonica can help with certain types of breathing, but you might be wondering which breathing techniques and exercises would be good to train to play the harmonica and/or improve your lung health.
Healthline outlines a list of quality breathing exercises that can help improve lung function and overall health. These can be especially good if you have asthma. Try incorporating these exercises the next time you play the harmonica:
- Nasal breathing: Nasal breathing is a great benefit to anyone, as nasal breathing is more physiological. When you breathe through your nose, you create warmer and more filtered air that gets into your body. The warmth and humidity from this style of breathing can help ease the pain of breathing with asthma.
- Diaphragmatic breathing: This breathing style helps train stability through your trunk (or midsection) to help support proper organ function and your back. When you imagine starting your breath from the low abdominals, you can get a much deeper breath as it expands your mid-section and rises up. This will help improve lung capacity.
- Pursed lip breathing: This breathing style still incorporates nasal breathing and is meant to improve issues with shortness of breath. You start by inhaling through your nose and exhaling through pursed lips as if you’re about to whistle. Get a good inhale, then exhale through your pursed lips to a count of four.
Using the Pulmonica for Asthma Treatment
A fair amount of research has been done about the correlation between playing the harmonica and those suffering from a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease like asthma. Multiple sources talk about how the use of harmonica playing has been studied, discussed, and used among some of the top lung disease experts as a way to aid patients with asthma.
A few experts from New York and Texas claim that the Pulmonica (a harmonica designed specifically for asthmatic patients) could yield major benefits in those with asthma, particularly young kids.
The Pulmonica was created by Dr. Dana Keller and designed to mimic a traditional harmonica to help with the same breathing techniques mentioned above. However, it is tuned differently, so it always creates a beautiful sound. In other words, those with asthma can strengthen their lungs and breath while still creating beautiful music!
Potential Difficulties Playing Harmonica with Asthma
Even though playing an instrument like the harmonica could help your condition, it still won’t come without its own set of challenges. If you have a fairly mild case of asthma, then you might see quicker progress.
But if you have tended to suffer from more aggressive asthmatic symptoms, then you might have to continue working your breathing and lung strength up to playing the harmonica.
Extra Work on Your Lungs
You might have to get accustomed to extra lung capacity and exertion being put on your body, and it may take more time than someone without or a less degree of asthma to train your lungs to perform at an acceptable level.
As this is an exercise that works both inhalation and exhalation almost equally and simultaneously, you will undoubtedly notice substantial improvement.
Depending on how aggressive your asthma is, you may have to build up a bit more lung capacity before picking up the harmonica and may have to do more frequent breathing exercises before starting.
Can You Play Harmonica With Asthma? Final Thoughts
Asthma can be a debilitating condition, especially if you suffer from more aggressive symptoms. Most people can still live a fairly active lifestyle, but it will take them a little more work than someone without asthma to work up to a comfortable physical fitness level and activity level. Playing any instrument, let alone a type of wind instrument, can be a difficult challenge. However, if you want to play the harmonica and have asthma, it is still much more than possible. You may have to put in additional time and effort into breathing exercises outside of just playing the harmonica, but playing the harmonica while dealing with asthma is very doable.
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