Lungs play a vital role in keeping us healthy. They provide oxygen to the body’s cells and clear out carbon dioxide waste. As important as it is to maintain a healthy pair of lungs, many people are unaware of the benefits.
The total amount of oxygen the lungs can hold is called its lung capacity. As we age, our lung capacity usually starts to decline. A reduced lung capacity makes breathing difficult and causes shortness of breath.
Some health-related problems such as asthma, lung cancer, malignant mesothelioma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can also restrict lung capacity and function. Lung cancer and COPD are usually caused by smoking, while malignant mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos. Pleural Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer that affects the protective lining of the lungs.
Chances of getting lung cancer and/or COPD are greatly reduced if you are a non-smoker or if you quit smoking. However, mesothelioma is caused due to involuntary asbestos exposure, usually by working in construction, shipyards, or serving in the military, where there is a higher incidence of asbestos.
Texas has one of the highest asbestos exposure rates in the country, the majority of which is in the coastline regions where workers work on shipyards off of the Gulf of Mexico. If you are someone from Texas and have a loved one suffering from mesothelioma, you should reach out to the Texas mesothelioma lawyer to pursue your compensation claim.
The reason you should pursue a claim against the employers who exposed you or your loved one to asbestos is two-fold: one, the compensation amount will help you pay off the expensive medical bills, and, second, the claim will make the employers think twice about exposing unsuspecting workers to hazards again.
Though asbestos exposure is not entirely within one’s control, there are other health or lifestyle-related problems that can be avoided.
Below is a rundown of the lifestyle changes and physical activities which can help you maintain and improve lung capacity and function.
1. Quit Smoking
If you are a non-smoker, then it’s all well and good, and you can skip this part. However, if you do smoke cigarettes, you are at a higher risk for multiple lung-related diseases: lung cancer, COPD, asthma, and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, just to name a few.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer.
With every cigarette you smoke, you inhale hundreds of toxic chemicals, such as carbon dioxide, nicotine, and tar. These chemicals are responsible for constricting the air passages which in turn is responsible for causing breathing difficulties.
If you are a smoker, you will start realizing the health benefits only days after quitting, especially a marked improvement in your lung capacity.
2. Get Proper Exercise
Apart from quitting smoking, the best way to improve your lung health is through regular exercise. Physical activity puts the muscles under strain, which increases their need for oxygen.
To provide additional oxygen, the lungs have to work harder. Regularly performing intense physical activity can make the lungs stronger and fix shortness of breath by increasing the lungs’ breathing capacity.
Physical activity is not only good for the lungs but also improves the heart function, making it pump blood faster. Further, exercise also reduces the risks of heart diseases, cancer, stroke, etc.
According to American Lung Association, adults should indulge in at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Running, walking, jumping rope, bicycling, and weight lifting are some exercises that help in improving heart and lung function.
3. Perform Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises are especially useful in improving one’s lung health. Some of the most common breathing exercises are pursed-lip breathing, belly breathing, and rib stretches.
Pursed lip breathing exercises are easy to do and can be done by beginners without experiencing any issues. Pursed-lip exercises aim to slow the breathing down to keep the airways open for a longer period.
It improves lung function and makes the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen easier. To perform the pursed-lip breathing exercise, slowly breathe in through your nostrils and breathe out, even slowly, through pursed lips.
The aim with this exercise is to take twice as much time to exhale than it took to inhale. So, for instance, if you inhaled for 2 seconds, you should exhale for 4 seconds.
Another effective breathing exercise for increasing lung capacity is belly breathing. It is also called diaphragmatic breathing, as it makes use of the diaphragm muscle between the abdomen and the chest.
When performing this exercise, the stomach should rise and fall with each breath, which is the reason why it’s called belly breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing helps improve lung expansion and contraction.
To perform belly breathing, lie down flat on your back, place one hand on your belly and one on your chest, and through the nose inhale and exhale slowly. Make sure that your chest remains still while your stomach should rise with each inhalation and fall with each exhalation. Repeat for reps to get better results.
Finally, the rib stretch can also improve the lungs’ function. Rib stretch exercise is performed to expand or stretch the ribs, allowing the lungs, therefore, to take in as much air as possible.
This breathing exercise can be done while standing in an upright position with hands on the hips. Slowly inhale air till the lungs get full, hold the breath for as long as is comfortable, and then slowly exhale. Repeat for three more reps for better results.
4. Drink Lots of Water
A simple and easy way to keep your lungs healthy is by staying hydrated. Hydration is important for everyone, but patients of lung diseases should especially drink more water throughout the day to clear out the thick and sticky mucus buildup along the linings of the organ, which can obstruct the easy flow of air.
Drinking more water facilitates in clearing out the mucus from the linings of the lungs. Thick mucus slows down the respiration process and also makes you vulnerable to respiratory problems and allergies.
Maintaining healthy lungs is essential for avoiding multiple health issues, like shortness of breath and other cardio-vascular complications. As we grow older, our lung capacity starts to decline. To maintain and improve lung capacity, one should adopt certain lifestyle changes and perform regular exercises, strenuous interval-style training, and breathing work. Smoking is the primary cause behind many lung-related diseases, such as lung cancer, asthma, and COPD. If you are a smoker, you should immediately quit.