Dowel Exercise Make an Appointment Ask a Question Search Conditions How this helps: It strengthens your arm muscles and requires you to use your abdominal muscles and diaphragm for breathing. This exercise will decrease your feeling of breathlessness by strengthening your breathing muscles. How to do it: Sit in a chair with your arms slightly bent. Raise and lower a dowel rod*. Inhale for one count (one second) while lifting the dowel; exhale for two counts while lowering the dowel. At this rate, you will lift and lower the dowel 20 times per minute. Use a clock with a second hand to monitor the rate. Do this exercise for two minutes and then increase by 15 to 30 seconds every two to three sessions. Work up to 15 minutes, then add a ½ pound weight** to each wrist. * A 3/4 inch dowel rod can be purchased at a local hardware store or you can cut off the handle of an old broom. **Wrist weights can be purchased at sporting goods stores or department stores such as Target or Wal-Mart. This information has been approved by Kimberly Sack, MS, PT (May 2012).