Melissa Benoit

Active Cycle of Breathing Technique (ACBT)

Active Cycle of Breathing Technique

Active Cycle of Breathing Technique (ACBT) is an airway clearance technique, developed by a physician and a physiotherapist in New Zealand. The aim was to help people with asthma clear secretions from their lungs. ACBT involves three different breathing exercises to help move mucous from the lungs.

1. Breathing control - gentle, relaxed breathing at a normal pace, to assist in relaxing the airways and muscles used for breathing.

2. Thoracic expansion exercise - deep, slow, relaxed breath in, with or without breath-holds, followed by quiet, relaxed breathing out. This allows air to go deep into the lungs and behind mucous.

3. Forced expiratory technique - a series of huffs (also called fogging-up-the-mirror), to help move mucous towards the upper airways where it can be cleared by coughing. This is a relatively flexible and easy technique to learn and perform. The three breathing exercises are performed in a specific order, which is tailored specifically for each individual person by our physiotherapist on the CF team.


This is also one of the most gentle airway clearance techniques, and thus can be used when different common CF related complications arise. It is, however, important to confirm the appropriateness with our physiotherapist on the CF team.