Breathing is one of the essential bodily functions. It is crucial for survival, but we often take it for granted. Until something goes wrong, we don’t realize how uncomfortable it can be to be out of breath, and when it does, we begin to realize how important breathing is.
Our lungs supply oxygen to our body and expel carbon dioxide and other waste gases. Our lungs protect us from the entry of unwanted germs and improve the immune system.
Our lungs may not be the first thing we think of when we think about taking care of our health. In addition to natural aging, the health of our lungs can be negatively affected by smoking, pollution, inhalation of chemical pollutants, various diseases and inflammation.
How can we improve our lung health?
Healthy lungs and higher lung capacity enable a person to breathe easily and become less breathless while exercising or performing the daily task. Here are some steps we can take to keep our lungs healthy:
- To prevent premature aging of your lungs and reduce your risk of several chronic lung diseases, such as COPD and lung cancer, do not smoke or quit smoking and other tobacco products.
- Avoid exposure to indoor and outdoor pollutants and chemicals at work by using protective masks and equipment.
- Consume a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Regular physical exercises
- Lung exercises to increase lung capacity
How do exercises strengthen our lungs?
When we do physical exercise, we need extra blood and oxygen to work efficiently and remove toxin buildup. Our heart and lungs work harder to meet the extra oxygen demand. That is why regular exercise makes our heart and lungs stronger.
Some exercises can help strengthen the neck and chest muscles, including the diaphragm and rib muscles, which aid breathing. In addition to regular workouts, lung-strengthening exercises can help you become less short of breath.
What Exercises Are Best for Improving Lung Health?
Lung exercises can reduce your risk of chronic lung disease and strengthen your chest and diaphragm muscles to breathe more effectively. Consult your healthcare provider before starting or changing your exercise routine. The following are some breathing exercises that improve lung capacity:
Diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing is a lung exercise that activates the diaphragm while breathing.
According to a study conducted in 2020, it is one of the best breathing exercises to improve lung capacity, strengthen the diaphragm and increase the amount of oxygen.
The doctors recommend this breathing exercise to people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Many health experts stated that practicing deep breathing exercises daily can help improve diaphragm functions and increase lung capacity. Deep breathing exercises can also help with stress and anxiety.
- alternating nasal breathing
Popular pranayama, Anulom-Vilom, or alternate nostril breathing, focuses solely on breath control and is effective in helping improve lung function and breathing efficiency. It is also beneficial in relaxing and calming our tense nerves.
In this breathing exercise, slow exhalations and the shape of your lips keep your airways open for a longer period of time, making breathing easier. Lip pursed breathing exercise is easy to perform and shows improvement in oxygen saturation, exercise tolerance, and arterial oxygenation.
Cohesive or even breathing, or Sama Vritti, is a famous breathing pranayama, using mindful breathing that improves lung capacity and breathing endurance. Throughout the exercise, keep your inhalation and exhalation rates the same length and be aware of how your lungs feel as you breathe.
According to a 2017 study, exercising ribcage joints and chest wall stretches can help free up your lungs, increase lung capacity, and improve the tone of your breathing muscles. This exercise is easy to master and you can do it anywhere.
Bhramari pranayama, or buzzing bee breath, is a breathing exercise that uses loud buzzing during exhalation. According to one study, practicing humming or reciting OM while breathing can improve lung function and allow more oxygen to flow through the body. In addition to improving lung functions, this exercise also benefits physical, emotional and mental health.
Regular lung exercises can help improve circulation and strengthen the muscles of the lungs, resulting in improved lung capacity and lung functions.