NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Studies show breathing can actually help dozens of medical conditions if you know how to do it correctly.

We breathe about 20,000 times a day, but somehow most of us still manage to get it wrong.

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“Because we’re so chronically rushed, it’s a big problem,” said Dr. Roberta Lee of Beth Israel Medical Center.

Doctors say learning to breathe in a more relaxed way so we take in more oxygen can help a surprising number of serious medical conditions, reports CBS 2’s Maurice DuBois.

“Relaxing breath can lower blood pressure. It can improve asthma. It can reduce inflammation and it certainly can reduce stress,” said Lee.

A recent study shows patients with asthma who learn relaxation breathing techniques reduce their need for an inhaler by 86 percent when suffering from an attack.

“If you know the science behind relaxing breathing, it’s not hard to understand why so many chronic diseases are positively affected,” Lee said.

Dr. Lee said the secret is returning to a more natural breathing pattern. Typically, she said, we take about 15 to 20 breaths a minute. This rapid, shallow breathing can throw the body into a fight or flight mode.

Taking a few minutes a day to slow your breathing down between six to 10 breaths per minute can really have a positive impact on your health.

“It slows down the heart rate. It stimulates the relaxation response in the automatic nervous system and restoration begins to happen,” Lee said.

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Breathing therapy is now part of a program offered to patients at Beth Israel, battling everything from diabetes to cancer and chronic pain.

“When we are tense, when we are in pain, when there is some sort of disease going on in the body or even in the mind, we tend to kind of clench up and hold it in,” said yoga therapist Jillian Friedman.

“We forget about it. We tend to hold our breath but that’s not good. The right way to do it is breathe in and push out with exertion,” said patient Terry Hess.

Click the following links to learn specific breathing therapy techniques:

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