Smoking, pollution, age and other factors can compromise the health of your lungs. Certain health issues such as asthma can also restrict the capacity of your lungs to breathe. While you may not be able to change how much oxygen your lungs can hold in a single period of time, breathing exercises and other habits can help to reduce a shortness in breath caused by compromised lung function. Here’s our guide to improving your lungs’ health.
Tips for Preserving Lung Health
While exercise cannot reverse damage that has been done to your lungs, it can help you use your lungs to their fullest capacity. Here are some other ways you can improve the health of your lungs:
- Refrain from smoking
- Stay physically active
- Drink plenty of water
If you notice that you are constantly experiencing shortness of breath during your daily activities, a persistent cough, or soreness while breathing, you should contact a doctor. Early treatment increases the likelihood of a good outcome.
Breathing Exercises for Lung Health
In the same way that aerobic exercise improves heart health, lung health can be improved by breathing exercises. Deep breathing exercises can help you increase your lung capacity, and can even help clear mucus from your lungs after pneumonia.
Deep breathing exercises are simple. With our favorite one, all you’ll need to do is breathe in deep 5 to 10 times, cough strongly 2 or 3 times afterwards, and then repeat. You can do this exercise even when you feel like your lungs are healthy, to help you start building your strength for the long-term.
The exercises below can also help you improve your lung capacity and strength:
- Pursed lip breathing:
- Begin by sitting up straight; good posture facilitates lung movement
- Breathe deeply through your notice slowly, exercising control
- Purse your lips
- Breathe out through your pursed lips, with the exhalation taking twice as long as the inhalation.
- Belly breathing:
- Rest your hand or a light object on your bely
- Breathe in slowly through your nose, taking note of how far your stomach expands
- Breathe out through your mouth
- Breathe through your nose again, trying this time to get your stomach to expand further than it did in step 2
- Exhale and do your best to ensure that the exhalation takes twice as long as your inhalation
- Occasionally, you can roll your shoulders and move your head from side to side to dispel any tension that the exercise may be causing your upper body
If you are experiencing shortness of breath while exercising, try building your strength up with interval training. This involves you alternating between short bursts of strenuous exercises and more prolonged periods of less intense exercise. For instance, jog for 1 minute and then switch to walking for 2 minutes. You can then repeat the cycle. Regular exercise when you are above the age of 50 is highly recommended, but there are some precautions that you should take. Here’s our guide to physical activity in your 50s.