Most of us take breathing for granted until we or someone we know begins to suffer from COPD, asthma or another debilitating lung disease. In addition to long term breathing problems, many of these diseases can lead to a lung transplant. Maintaining good lung health is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. This virus attacks the lungs and causes severe breathing problems even after your recover from it.
Here are some activities that you can do to strengthen your lungs and decrease your chances of needing a transplant in the future.
These activities are listed according to fitness level. If you aren’t particularly athletic, start with the beginner level activities. If you are an athletic person, try them all!
Beginner Fitness Level (Recommended for any age group):
1. Laughter Yoga- Laughter yoga combines breathing practices from traditional yoga with deep belly laughter. Deep belly laughter forces your lungs to expand more than they normally would and replaces the carbon dioxide that sits at the bottom of your lungs with oxygen. In between the laughter exercises, laughter yoga also incorporates deep breathing exercises causing you to take fewer, more effective, breaths overall.
2. Yoga- Yoga is founded upon breathing practices. In yoga, you consciously take long, deep breaths while practicing different poses and/or meditating. The long inhales and even longer exhales force the carbon dioxide that sits at the bottom of your lungs out and makes room for more oxygen. These exercises also help you slow down your breathing so you take fewer, more effective, breaths.
Intermediate Fitness Level (Recommended for any age group):
3. Biking- Biking is a cardiovascular exercise that forces you to use your lungs to their maximum capacity for an extended period of time which strengthens them.
Advanced Fitness Level (Recommended age group: teens-50s):
4. Long Distance Running- Similar to biking, long distance running forces you to use your lungs to their maximum capacity for an extended period of time. This helps you get rid of all the carbon dioxide that sits at the bottom of your lungs and makes room for more oxygen. More oxygen in your lungs means more oxygen in your blood which results in better overall health.
5. High Intensity Cardio -HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), sprints, and jump rope are examples of high intensity cardio. They include a regimen of short bursts of anaerobic exercises which leave you out of breath. They are an intense cardiovascular activity that force you to use your lungs to their maximum capacity. The more you use your lungs to their full capacity, the healthier they will be.
If you struggle with your lung capacity, try starting with beginner level exercises like laughter yoga and slowly advancing to the more difficult ones like biking around town or in nature.