Johns Hopkins Recommends Breathing- and Sound-Based Strategies to Aid in COVID-19 Recovery

Lung health is on everyone’s mind these days, rightfully so.

And ever since the pandemic began, I’ve been on the lookout for things you can do at home to both protect and strengthen your lungs.

Especially since many of the studies published over the past few months have indicated that improving lung capacity is one of the best ways to protect yourself in this age of COVID-19.

And now, Johns Hopkins—one of the most trusted medical authorities in the nation—just recommended a safe, simple, drug-free treatment approach to help COVID-19 survivors.

I’m talking about the regenerative power of sound!

Today, I’ll share with you the top science-backed ways you can safely protect—or rebuild—your lung health while we all navigate a “new normal.”

Johns Hopkins recommends humming for COVID-19 recovery

Perhaps it was an omen, but one of my last in-person meetings before COVID-19 was with my friend and colleague, Dan.

I made the drive from Pennsylvania to meet him in Baltimore at a coffee shop near Johns Hopkins University.

We brainstormed how we could work together to help educate more people about the healing potential associated with sound and vibration.

Now, six months later, that very same university has released a comprehensive collection of exercises to help people recovering from the novel virus… Specifically exercises to help people regain their lung capacity.

And one of the top-recommended exercises is humming, a sound-based strategy I often write about. I’ll guide you through my go-to humming exercise in just a moment. But first, let’s take a closer look at the science behind humming.

The science-backed respiratory benefits of humming

It’s no wonder that humming made Johns Hopkins’ list of lung-builders.

Humming has been shown to increase levels of the virus-fighting natural chemical nitric oxide up to 15x! (You can read more about this in another article I wrote).

Nitric oxide is so beneficial because it can help:

  • Build and repair your nervous system, decreasing stress and anxiety
  • Deliver more oxygen to your entire body
  • Dilate your blood vessels, allowing for better blood flow to areas that need it

Humming also stimulates your vagus nerve—the longest nerve in your body that affects all of your major organs.

One of the major benefits of vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) is its ability to lower levels of inflammation, which is known to increase lung damage.

Furthermore, researchers have found that VNS also acts as a natural bronchodilator—a tool that relaxes the lung muscles and opens the airways to make breathing easier.


My go-to humming technique

As I mentioned above, humming offers a wide range of protective benefits. Here are a few steps to ensure you’re fully stimulating your vagus nerve:

  • Slowly inhale through your nose.
  • With your lips closed, breathe out. While you do this, make a humming sound for the entire duration of the exhalation.
  • Repeat this cycle two to three times and then pause. Notice how you feel.
  • Continue this humming cycle for as long as you’d like.

Of course, as I mentioned earlier, Johns Hopkins listed several all-natural lung-strengthening exercises in addition to humming. So let’s take a look at their other recommendations…

Two more ways to strengthen your defenses in the age of COVID-19

Below are two more safe, simple, natural, and completely free preventative measures you can use starting today to build stronger lungs.

  1. Aerobic Exercise. Physical activity like walking, jogging, and biking has been shown to lessen the progression of COVID-19, restore lung elasticity, and lung function.

  2. Diaphragmatic Breathing. Slow, deep breathing helps deliver more oxygen to your entire body, while also boosting your immune system’s “army” of white blood cells—helping to better protect you against viruses and other harmful invaders.

Be sure to take full, deep breaths—so much so that your belly extends and that you can feel air filling into the tops of your lungs. Never inhale too deep that it is painful. In this article, I detail one of my favorite and highly effective exercises.

Whether you’re recovering from COVID-19 or are looking to fortify your defenses against it, these steps are easy enough to start today—and are well worth incorporating into your everyday routine.

Although COVID-19 has been tragic, terrifying, and life-changing for us all, it was encouraging to discover that medical providers are now recommending these powerful, science-backed solutions. And now, more and more people are able to get the help that they need—safely, conveniently, and naturally… for no cost at all.

Feel free to email me at with any questions you may have. In the meantime, I’ll be sure to keep you updated on any COVID-19 or lung-health related research. Stay tuned right here to Sound Health.

Stay safe, be kind, and take care of one another.


Lien, P. (2020). Coronavirus Recovery: Breathing Exercises. Retrieved from:

Staats, P. et al. (2020). The Use of Non-invasive Vagus Nerve Stimulation to Treat Respiratory Symptoms Associated With COVID019; A Theoretical Hypothesis and Early Clinical Experience. Neuromodulation. 23(6): pp. 784 – 788.Retrieved from:

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About the author

Jim Donovan M.Ed., is a professional musician and educator. He's an Assistant Professor at Saint Francis University where he teaches music and how the power of sound can help you experience a healthier life.