Breathe Better

Human lungs

Human lungs

Respiratory disease includes asthma, bronchiectasis, bronchiolitis, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer and obstructive sleep apnoea.

Respiratory disease is New Zealand’s third most common cause of death and over 700,000 New Zealanders live with a respiratory condition.

Breathe Better September is the first-ever respiratory awareness month in New Zealand. The campaign aims to illustrate the steps Kiwis can take to improve respiratory function, and live a healthier life.

Respiratory diseases do discriminate somewhat – sadly more than half of the people admitted to hospital with a poverty-related condition are there because of a respiratory problem such as asthma, bronchiolitis, acute infection or pneumonia. Those who live in deprived households are also three times more likely to be admitted to hospital for respiratory illnesses.

Eating well, being active and being smokefree are key ingredients for a healthy life, and is also very important to reduce the symptoms or risk of respiratory disease.

This Breathe Better September, three inspiring Kiwis are leading the way – showing that being healthy and keeping active is very beneficial for everyone, especially when living with a respiratory condition.

Alistair Harsant from Auckland competes in triathlons as a way to manage and control his severe, exercise-induced asthma. “It’s the most fantastic feeling to know that something that used to have so much control over me doesn’t anymore. It’s the combination of swimming, cycling and running that’s made the biggest difference in my wellbeing,” says Alistair.

Emily Arps from Christchurch says “I have felt many respiratory benefits from improving my diet and increasing my level of exercise. I do daily chest physio, eat and sleep well and exercise at any opportunity. I do mountain biking, kayaking, and walk and bike everywhere,” says Emily, who has a unique condition that affects only one in four million.

Pauline Mohi from Christchurch who has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease says, “Pulmonary rehabilitation has changed my life. It’s not that it’s easy to start off with, you’re so breathless you think, ‘This is crazy’. You just need to get past that point and keep persisting. I’m much healthier now, and can breathe a lot better than four years ago.”

Breathe Better September is in place for Kiwis to show support for better breathing and healthy lungs, while also encouraging everyone to make small changes in day-to-day life, to make a big difference on their breathing. For more information, visit