Lungs are one of the most essential organs in our body but often we take them for granted. Though our body is naturally designed with its defense system to protect our lungs from germs, dust, or other agents that can cause lung diseases, we must take their proper care. We should prioritize lung health.
How To Maximize Your Lung Health?
While the lungs are matured completely around the age of 20-25 years, and when they are left untrained or not taken proper care of, they start losing their functionality gradually at about 35 years of age. This has been explained by the American Lung Association.(1) Declining function of the lung is linked with an increase in the risk of various heart diseases, especially heart failure, as per the research of 2018, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.(2)
So, to keep things going well with our lung health, we need to follow certain things, like staying active, performing yoga breathing exercises or diaphragmatic exercises, improving eating habits, and many more.
The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle sheet that lies between the abdomen and the chest. This is supposed to be the major breathing muscle and it should help the lungs in filling up with air by moving down and then by pushing air out of the lungs as it starts moving back up. Such kind of breathing is also known as belly breathing.
A research study of the year 2016 that was published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, observed the effects of diaphragmatic breathing on the function of the respiratory system.(3) In this study, two groups of subjects/participants were considered, one group engaged in practicing diaphragmatic breathing while the other engaged in feedback breathing exercises. The result showed a significant improvement in the lung capacity in the group of people who practiced diaphragmatic breathing.
For performing this exercise, one needs to breathe from the belly. As you inhale and exhale, you need to place one hand on the chest and one hand on the belly. You need to breathe through your nose for two seconds and then breathe out through pursed lips for two more seconds. Make sure that you are pressing down your abdomen and engaging your entire diaphragm.
This type of breathing is another way to maximize your lung health. Pursed-lip breathing is a lung exercise that is quite easy to do and one can do it anywhere and at any time. In such a kind of breathing exercise, you need to slowly inhale through your nose and exhale through your pursed lips. The primary goal here is to exhale twice as long as you inhale. It means, that if you inhale for two seconds, you need to exhale for four seconds.
One stretching exercise that can help you maximize your lung health is rib stretch. This involves stretching or expanding the ribs, which in turn helps your lungs to take enough air into it. Rib stretches, when done regularly can help take more into the lungs and completely exhale so that stale air does not get built up in your lungs. This in turn helps in improving lung health.
This exercise can be done by standing upright with your hands on the hips. Now, slowly breathe in until the lungs fill up completely. Then, hold your breath for at least 20 seconds, and then slowly breathe out. Relax, and repeat it thrice.
Laughing and Singing:
“Laughter is the best medicine and songs are like the healing stones!” One can get enough relief from both these activities. However, did you ever know that they can also help in maximizing your lung health? Such activities work our abdominal muscles and also our lungs. Laughter does not just increase the lung capacity but also forces out the stale air from the lungs and makes room for fresh air to enter. Similarly, singing helps in increasing lung capacity and also works the diaphragm muscle.
Increasing Activity Level:
Generally, increasing one’s daily activity level can help in improving lung health. So, you should keep yourself active for attaining better lung health. Strength training exercises, such as brisk walks, squats, push-ups, or lunges can be tried to maximize your lung health. So, no matter if you are young or old, healthy or surviving with any chronic illness, you should always try to increase your activity level and remain physically fit and active to keep your lungs healthy.
Water is very essential for our overall health, including lung health. So, you should remain properly hydrated to maximize your lung health. The mucus produced by the lungs gets thin when we drink adequate water, which in turn makes it easier for us to breathe. This is very much true in the case of people having COPD, or other lung diseases.
Improve Eating Habits:
We are what we eat. This also implies to our lung health. To maximize your lung health you need to eat a diet that is packed with vegetables and fruits which are especially a great source of anti-oxidants and also foods that are rich in protein like fish, milk, eggs, and soy. All these foods are beneficial in improving the functioning of our lungs and also help people with COPD or other respiratory illnesses.
As per the research of 2017 published in the European Respiratory Journal, it has been mentioned that taking solid foods rich in antioxidants, such as bananas, apples, and tomatoes, about four servings every day can reduce age-related decline in lung function.(4) So, nutrition is highly essential for lung health.
Avoid Smoking and Don’t Vape:
Smoking is injurious. We all are aware of this fact. Smoking leads to COPD, and lung cancer. Quitting smoking can help in keeping your lungs healthy and also reduce the risk of chronic lung diseases quite significantly. So, if you have been smoking for a while, stop smoking, before it gets too late.
Another thing that hampers lung health is the use of tobacco, including vapes and e-cigarettes. Tobacco in any form when gets addictive can increase the risk of several health issues including heart diseases and lung infections.
According to a review of 2020 from SUNY Upstate Medical University, it has been stated that vaping can compromise the functioning of your lungs.(5) So, to maximize your lung health, don’t vape.
One of the most important ways to maximize your lung health is to improve your posture. A good posture helps in better respiratory function. One must know that the longer you sit, the less your body can fight the gravitational force and maintain a stable and strong core.
Avoid Respiratory Illness:
Respiratory illnesses or colds can immediately affect your lung health and can result in several serious complications. So, try to avoid respiratory illnesses by following some of the major steps mentioned below:
- Wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
- When a transmission is common and rapid in your society, avoid close contact with others.
- Get appropriate vaccines for respiratory diseases like flu, or covid.
Reach out for a doctor’s consultation if you experience symptoms of respiratory illnesses.
Test Your Home For Radon:
Radon is a gas that can’t be touched, smelled, or seen; yet it is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Natural uranium found in rocks, soil, and water breaks to produce radon gas. This gas gets into the buildings via cracks or holes in the walls or floors and around the electrical wires. When we breathe this gas, our lungs get damaged. Thus, you need to test your home for radon, which can be done using a simple test kit.
Spend Time Outdoors:
Outdoor air quality is usually better than the quality of indoor air. You should spend time outdoors for breathing fresh air, which can reduce your exposure to indoor air pollutants. However, make sure that you practice appropriate measures to protect your skin and health from the UV rays of the sun when outside.
Improve Indoor Air Quality:
Though we can spend enough time outside, we still have to spend a majority of our time indoors. So it is essential to keep the indoor air clean and maintain the air quality. So, keep your home clean, wash linens, clear dust, and replace air filters quite often.
As recommended by the EPA, the indoor air filters should be replaced every 60-90days.(6)
Know When To See Your Doctor:
You might experience some symptoms that can give you an alarm of your lung health getting declining or you are suffering from a serious lung disease like COPD. In such cases, you should see your doctor immediately. Check below to know about the alarming symptoms.
- Pain while breathing
- Shortness of breath while performing simple activities.
- Wheezing with exercise
- A persistent cough
- Pain in the airway
- Cough while exercising
We know that the lungs are one of the most important visceral organs in our body and we must take proper care and take essential steps to maximize lung health. If you have gone through the entire article, you might have got a clear-cut idea about some of the best ways to maximize your lung health. So, why not try adopting them and give your lungs a treat of better health?