How to get, and keep, your lungs in top shape
We often don’t consider the important role our lungs play in keeping us strong and well. It's not until we experience problems breathing that we take notice. But the truth is, like the rest of our body, our lungs need daily care and attention.
Breathing feeds oxygen to every cell in the body. Without sufficient oxygen, people are more prone to health problems, including respiratory illnesses, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and even heart disease.
Lungs at rest and during most daily activities are only at 50 percent of their capacity,
Like the rest of your body, lungs thrive on movement and activity."
Since regular day-to-day activity doesn't help you use your lungs to full capacity, you need to challenge the lungs with more intense activity. "And to help counteract the build-up of toxins and tar in the lungs caused by environmental pollutants, allergens, dust, and cigarette smoke, you need to help your lungs cleanse themselves.
1. Diaphragmatic breathing
Among the many things you can do to keep your lungs functioning properly are some simple breathing techniques, according to Keith Roberts, RRT, CPFT, director of respiratory therapy at Rush.
These techniques can be used for people who are experiencing lung problems related to asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis, as well as healthy individuals.
Diaphragmatic breathing uses the awareness of the diaphragm muscle, which separates the organs in the abdomen from the lungs. By concentrating on lowering the diaphragm as you breathe in, you'll get a much deeper inhale, This is the technique that professional singers use to increase their lung capacity.
2. Simple deep breathing
Deep breathing can help you get closer to reaching your lungs' full capacity.
As you slowly inhale, consciously expand your belly with an awareness of lowering the diaphragm. Next expand your ribs, allowing the floating ribs to open like wings. Finally, allow the upper chest to expand and lift.
After this, exhale as completely as possible by letting the chest fall, then contracting the ribs and, finally, bring the stomach muscles in and up to lift the diaphragm and expel the last bit of air.
3. "Counting" your breaths
You can also increase your lung capacity by increasing the length of your inhalations and exhalations. Start by counting how long a natural breath takes. If it takes to the count of five to inhale it should take to the count of five to exhale. You'll want them to be of equal length.
Once you've discovered the count for your average breath, add one more count to each inhale and exhale until you can comfortably extend the length of time it takes to fill and empty your lungs.
The point is to avoid straining or being uncomfortable. It should be a gradual and easy process.
4. Watching your posture
Since the lungs are soft structures, they only take up the room that you make for them. You want to occasionally sit tall and reach overhead, to make more room for your lungs, A simple technique for giving your lungs even more room is leaning back slightly in a stable chair, lifting the chest and opening the front of your body as you breathe deeply.
5. Staying hydrated
Getting enough water is as important for the lungs as it is for the rest of the body.
Staying well hydrated by taking in fluids throughout the day helps keep the mucosal linings in the lungs thin, This thinner lining helps the lungs function better.
Laughing is a great exercise to work the abdominal muscles and increase lung capacity, It also clears out your lungs by forcing enough stale air out that it allows fresh air to enter into more areas of the lung.
7. Staying active
Regular moderately intense activity is great for the lungs, and when you increase your daily activity you get three things done at once: healthy lungs, a healthier heart, and a better mood, Aim for at least 20 minutes of consistent, moderately intense movement daily, like a brisk walk or bike ride.