How to Strengthen Your Lungs and Breathe Better. Breathing is one of those actions our bodies do without even thinking about it. We need to breathe in order to live, and it’s only when we’re struggling with it due to an illness or another medical condition, that we actually stop and think about our lungs and what they do. So, how do we pay better attention to our lungs in general, and how do we strengthen them to breathe better? Here is how to keep your lungs healthy.
The Role of Lungs
Lungs are a large organ that’s a part of the respiratory system, helping us breathe, and therefore, keeping us alive. As we breathe in, fresh oxygen from the air comes into our lungs, and gets carried into our bloodstream. The blood takes it all the way to each and every cell in our bodies, where it gets exchanged for carbon dioxide. This gas gets back to the lungs once again, through the bloodstream, where it ends with an exhale.
The lungs are divided into left and right, and they are each divided into parts called lobes. The right lung is divided into three lobes and the left one has two lobes. They are connected with other parts of the body through bronchial tubes and bronchioles which end in alveoli, the actual sacks that perform the oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange.
The health of our lungs declines with age, just like every other organ and tissue in our bodies. However, given the importance of its role, paying more attention to it on a daily basis is crucial for our well-being and long-term longevity.
Lung Inflammation and Disease
Coughing, runny nose, congestion – these are all symptoms of an inflammation of the respiratory system. Come this time of year, the chances of catching a virus or a bacteria that can infect your lungs and all other organs of the respiratory system only increase. These types of diseases can often cause trouble breathing, swallowing, and even lead to more serious lung issues like pneumonitis, asthma, and chronic lower respiratory diseases.
It’s usually not until we experience trouble breathing that we start thinking about what we can do to improve it, but there are plenty of things we can try to strengthen our lungs and prevent the severity of a potential inflammation in the first place.
How to Protect Your Lungs
Before we get into the topic of implementing habits and routines that can help strengthen your lungs and keep them as healthy as possible, there are a few things you can do to protect them and reduce the risk of lung disease.
- Avoid smoking – smoking is probably one of the absolute worst habits you can acquire throughout your life in regards to your health. It’s one of the greatest causes of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), reducing your life quality and potentially threatening your life expectancy as well. The toxins in cigarettes attack your immune system and damage your cells’ DNA, making it hard to recover or even fight cancer cells.
- Avoid Exposure to Air Pollutants – even though you can’t protect yourself from every possible pollutant, especially outdoors, it’s still important to be aware of what we’re breathing in on a daily basis. Is there someone smoking in your household? Do you live close to a busy, car-filled street? Have you checked your home for mold? Do you use a lot of chemicals when you clean your home? All of these can be dangerous to your lung health, leaving you exposed to cell damage and severe inflammation. Invest in an air filter and try to stay away from outdoor pollutants by checking the air quality in your area on a daily basis.
How to Strengthen Your Lungs?
Now that we’ve removed the greatest obstacles to lung health from the equation, it’s time to talk about how you can strengthen your lungs, the natural way.
Engage in Exercise
Probably one of the best and easiest ways to improve your lung health and breathe better is to stay active. Increasing your physical activity makes your heart and lungs work harder to supply your muscles with additional oxygen. As you continue on your exercise journey, your physical fitness improves. With it, your body becomes more efficient at utilizing oxygen and transferring it from your bloodstream to your muscles.
Additionally, regular exercise can help increase your lung capacity, which allows you to take in more oxygen with each inhale. This can be especially beneficial for people who are suffering from asthma or COPD as they’re known to cause reduced lung function.
Perform Breathing Exercises
By now we all know that breathing exercises help lower our anxiety and stress levels, as well as help us become more mindful of our day-to-day activities. Still, there is something to be said about the connection between breathing exercises and lung health. Certain types of breathing like diaphragmatic breathing (also known as belly breathing), which engages the diaphragm, and pursed-lip breathing, which improves the oxygen-to-carbon dioxide exchange, can do wonders for the health and strength of your lungs, increasing their capacity over time.
Lower Your Overall Inflammation
Even though the food you eat doesn’t necessarily end up in your lungs, how your body reacts to it matters. If you’re eating food that leaves you in an inflamed state, your increasing your risk of spreading the inflammation to other areas of your body. Couple that with a circulating virus in the autumn/winter season, and you’re risking lung inflammation and infections.
In addition to inflammatory foods, keeping your stress levels high can have the same effect. Keep your stress at bay by performing stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises, or journaling, and pay attention to your sleep quality. Always give your body plenty of time to rest and recharge, especially during the high-risk months.
Lung capacity may decrease over time, but it doesn’t mean you need to speed it up by engaging in certain habits that harm its function. Avoid smoking, invest in an air filter, increase your activity levels, clean up your diet, lower your stress levels, and learn a few breathing exercises, and you’ll be on the right track to keep your lungs healthy.
However, your respiratory system is a complex set of organs and blood vessels, and if you feel like your lung capacity is getting worse, you’re struggling to breathe properly, or you’re feeling like your breathing muscles are weak, consider getting a medical check-up to ensure there aren’t any underlying causes of your symptoms.