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 do not realize how uncomfortable it can be to be breathless, and when that happens, we start appreciating how vital breathing is.
Our lungs supply oxygen to our body and remove carbon dioxide and other waste gases. Our lungs protect us from preventing the entry of unwanted germs and improve the immune system.
Our lungs might not be the first thing that comes to mind when we think about taking care of our health. Besides natural aging, our lungs’ health 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 a higher lung capacity enable someone to breathe easily and get less out of breath while exercising or performing the daily task. The following are some steps we can take to keep our lungs healthy:
How do exercises strengthen our lungs?
When we engage in physical exercises, we need extra blood and oxygen supply to work efficiently and clear the toxins buildups. Our heart and lungs work harder to meet the additional oxygen requirements. Therefore, regular exercising makes our heart and lungs stronger.
Some exercises can help strengthen the neck and chest muscles, including the diaphragm and rib muscles, that aid breathing. In addition to regular workouts, lung-strengthening exercises can help you be less likely to become short of breath.
What exercises are best to improve lung health?
Lung exercises can reduce your risk of chronic lung diseases and strengthen your chest and diaphragm muscles to breathe more effectively. Consult your healthcare provider before starting or modifying your exercise routine. The following are some breathing exercises that improve lung capacity:
Diaphragmatic or belly breathing is a pulmonary exercise that activates the diaphragm during 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 intake.
The doctors suggest this breathing exercise in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Many health experts stated that daily deep breathing exercises practicing can help improve diaphragm functions and increase lung capacity. Deep breathing exercises can also help with stress and anxiety.
Popular pranayama, Anulom-Vilom, or alternate nostril breathing, solely focuses on breathing control and is effective in helping to improve lung function and respiratory efficiency. It is also beneficial in relaxing and calming our tense nerves.
In this breathing exercise, slow exhalations and the shape of your lips allow your airways to remain open for an extended period, making breathing easier. Pursed lip breathing exercise is easy to perform and shows improvement in oxygen saturation, exercise tolerance, and arterial oxygenation.
Coherent or equal breathing, or Sama Vritti, is a famous breathing pranayama, which involves conscious breathing that improves lung capacity and respiratory endurance. Throughout the exercise, keep your inhalation and exhalation pace at the same length, and remain aware of how your lungs feel as you perform breathing.
According to a study conducted in 2017, practicing rib cage joints and chest wall stretching exercises may help clear your lungs, increase lung capacity, and improve respiratory muscle tone. This exercise is easy to master, and you can perform it anywhere.
Bhramari pranayama, or humming bee breathing, is a breathing exercise that incorporates loud humming during exhalation. According to a study, practicing humming or chanting OM while breathing may improve pulmonary functions and allow more oxygen to travel throughout the body. In addition, to enhancing 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 enhanced lung capacity and lung functions.
Dr. Nitin Rathi | Senior Consultant – Pulmonology | Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi
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