How to Increase Your Lung Capacity

Learn How to Increase Your Lung Capacity This Lung Cancer Awareness Month

November is here again, and with it comes Lung Cancer Awareness month. While many people are thinking about Thanksgiving dinners and preparing for travel and family gatherings, millions of people are thinking about lung diseases and ailments that are affecting them. Some are worried about getting up the stairs without losing their breath. Some are hoping no one will ask them whether or not they are still smoking. Some are just praying that no one’s perfume or even the spices used in the food will set off an asthma attack.   

The World Health Organization reported that the ailments they call the big five that are causes for concern when it comes to lung health are: 

  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Asthma
  • acute lower respiratory tract infections
  • tuberculosis (TB)
  • lung cancer

COPD affects more than 200 million people worldwide and asthma affects more than 334 million people. Of those that contract acute lower respiratory tract infections, four million die annually. TB still impacts more than 10 million people in the world, and 14.1 million cases of lung cancer were reported in a single calendar year. Of those 14.1 million cases, lung cancer claimed the lives of 8.2 million people. 

These numbers are shocking and disturbing. More often than not, when people see them, they are met with encouragement to stop smoking, workout, drink more water, get regular checkups, and essentially do all they can to lead healthier lives. A common question people ask though, is why is exercise so important to lung health? And the follow-up question is usually what exercises are best for improving lung capacity to make them healthier? We’re answering both below.

Exercise Strengthens the Lungs

According to the American Lung Association (ALA), “When you are physically active, your heart and lungs work harder to supply the additional oxygen your muscles demand. Just like regular exercise makes your muscles stronger, it also makes your lungs and heart stronger.”

That’s why you need to exercise regularly. The more you do it, the more efficient your body becomes at supplying oxygen to your bloodstream and moving it to your working muscles. Over time, you’ll find you’re able to work out longer and harder without becoming short of breath. 

Exercises You Can Do to Improve Lung Capacity 

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) recommends 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activities or 1 hour and 15 minutes a week of vigorous ones. These are the best aerobic activities for lung health. They are activities that get your heart pumping and get you breathing. Activities you can do include:

  • Biking
  • Brisk walking or jogging
  • Hiking 
  • Running or playing sports that involve running such as soccer or tennis
  • Dancing 
  • Kickboxing
  • Swimming
  • Yoga: This type of exercise is a favorite for increasing lung capacity as not only is there a lot of focus on breathing, but it also focuses on flexibility, strength training, and good posture.

Strength training exercises are also highly recommended by the ALA and the ODPHP at least two days a week. Both organizations agree that strength training is important for not just your lungs, but for your overall physical health. In fact, according to the ALA, when you incorporate strength training, you build your core strength. This can help with inhaling and exhaling properly as well as toning the muscles required to breathe. 

Take Care of Your Lungs

As always, speak to your doctor before beginning a new workout regimen. They may be able to help you determine the optimal way to ease into a healthier lifestyle. After all, you don’t want to jump right into working out. You want to take baby steps so you can develop a habit of healthy living. 

It’s also important to use caution when working out in areas that are highly polluted areas. They can wreak havoc on your lungs and make any current ailments you may have worse.

If your doctor suspects any issues with your lungs, they can order a Chest X-Ray, CT of the chest, or MRI of the chest which you can schedule with our office.

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