The total amount of air your lungs can hold is your lung capacity. Over time, our lung capacity and function typically decline slowly with age. Some medical conditions, like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), can hasten this lung capacity and function decline. This causes breathing difficulties and shortness of breath.
There are, thankfully, exercises that can help maintain and enhance lung capacity, making it easier for your lungs to keep healthy and provide your body with the oxygen it requires.
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Laugh Out Loud!
Laughing is an excellent exercise for working the abdominal muscles and increasing lung capacity. It also clears your lungs by forcing stale air out, allowing fresh air to enter more areas of the lung. This is because laughter causes the alveoli in your lungs to expand. These are tiny air sacs – there are 300 to 500 million of them! By enlarging these, the area for oxygen exchange is increased, and more oxygen enters your lungs.
Allow your inner musician to shine
If you’re one of the many people who enjoy singing in the shower, you’re in luck because singing can help with lung capacity. According to the British Lung Foundation, it is especially beneficial for patients suffering from respiratory diseases.
People with lung diseases told the foundation that singing helped them control their breathing and thus manage their conditions. It is a topic that is still being researched. A 2015 study of 20 Indonesian students discovered that choir singers had a higher average lung capacity than non-singers.
Enhance Your Posture
Posture and breathing are inextricably linked. Poor posture can constrict your airways, limiting your lungs’ capacity and effectiveness.
Leaning back slightly in a stable chair, lifting the chest, and opening the front of your body as you breathe deeply is a simple technique for giving your lungs more room. Throughout the day, make an effort to stand/sit up straight and take deep breaths.
Take vitamin D
Vitamin D supplements can protect against COPD flare-ups and inflammation, allowing you to breathe more comfortably. People with COPD are also at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis, which vitamin D can help prevent.
Vitamin D rich foods include:
- Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon
- Egg Yolks
- Beef liver
- Milk or almond milk
- Orange juice with yogurt
There are, thankfully, exercises that can help maintain and increase lung capacity, making it easier to keep your lungs healthy and provide your body with the oxygen it requires. The most common breathing exercise is Diaphragmatic Breathing.
It is also known as “belly breathing,” which involves the diaphragm, which is supposed to do the majority of the work in terms of breathing.
This technique is especially beneficial for people with COPD because their diaphragm isn’t as strong and could be strengthened. This type of breathing produces a better and more powerful airflow, stretches your lung capacity, and is beneficial for general relaxation and stress relief. It also helps to slow your breathing rate, which reduces the amount of effort and energy required.
Other breathing exercises include; Pursed-Lip Breathing, Buteyko Breathing, Yoga Breathing, etc.
If you experience breathlessness or shortness of breath while exercising, interval training may be a better option than steady exercise. HIIT improves maximal oxygen consumption more effectively than traditional, long aerobic workouts alone.
Sprinting in short, powerful bursts is one method of increasing your cardiovascular capacity. Although all aerobic exercise improves lung capacity, HIIT may be considered more effective because it takes less time and may have a lower overall physical impact on your body.
Interval training requires alternating between short bursts of more intense and less intense exercise. For instance, in a cycle, a person could walk at a swift pace for 1 minute, then more slowly for 2 minutes.
It is a good idea to slow down for a few minutes whenever exercise causes shortness of breath. It may be beneficial to practice pursed-lip breathing until the shortness of breath subsides.
Working to keep your lungs healthy is far more efficient than attempting to repair them after something goes wrong. Do the following to keep your lungs healthy:
- Stop smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke and other environmental irritants.
- Consume antioxidant-rich foods.
- Obtain vaccinations such as the flu and pneumonia vaccines. This can aid in preventing lung infections and the promotion of lung health.
- Increase your frequency of exercise to help your lungs function correctly.
- Enhance indoor air quality. Reduce pollutants such as artificial fragrances, mold, and dust by using tools such as indoor air filters.