(WellnessPursuits.com) – Having healthy lungs and a strong diaphragm is integral to our overall health – especially when it comes to our heart and oxygen flow through the body. Even more important, especially in today’s health climate, having strong lungs might make the difference between whether we live or die if we succumb to illnesses like the flu, pneumonia, SARS or COVID-19. Strengthening our lungs and diaphragm can increase lung capacity and exercise tolerance, and may just help us breathe better in general. We did a little digging and found some easy exercises that may help.
Diaphragm & Lung Exercises
Pursed lipped breathing is a great exercise for strengthening the diaphragm, or the muscle responsible for helping us push air back out of our lungs. Pursing your lips forces you to breathe at a faster rate, creating a quick breathing pace that forces your diaphragm muscle to move – giving it exactly the exercise it needs. Do 10 pursed lip breathing sets (five quick breaths in and out per set), resting for at least 30 seconds between each set.
Belly breathing is another great exercise for your diaphragm muscle. To do this, sit up straight and tall, without your back leaning or resting against a wall or chair. With your hands down at your side or on your lap, take a deep breath in from your diaphragm and imagine you are filling your belly as well, filling it as much as you can. Do 10 sets of belly breaths (five breaths each), resting at least 30 seconds between each set.
Cardiovascular exercise is critical to lung health as the two systems work hand-in-hand. The heart and lungs go hand-in-hand. The healthier one is, the more it can help the other. Finding time for 30 minutes of exercise per day might improve lung capacity, strengthen your diaphragm and increase carbon dioxide exchange.
Breathing into an inspiration incentive spirometer, an inexpensive plastic device found in most medical supply stores, prompts you to inhale deeply and use your lungs more effectively. A lot of people are given spirometers when they are ill or if they are not physically mobile, encouraging them to take deep breaths to preserve lung function. You’ll need to talk to your doctor about what your “volume” goal should be, as marked on the device.
What NOT to Do Is Critical…
Of course, what you don’t do is just as important as exercise. Strengthening your lungs, increasing your capacity and assuring better diaphragm health is virtually impossible for those who smoke. While you can’t necessarily control pollution in the area where you live, you can make sure you wear personal protective equipment (PPE) if you work in environments that include breathing hazards (particulates, chemicals or other safety issues).
While there’s not much you can do to completely avoid illness, taking a proactive role in your own health by exercising your lungs can make a huge difference. You may even find you don’t get sick as often, have milder illnesses, or even recover faster when you do get sick. If in doubt, talk to your healthcare professional about other things you can do to reduce your risk of poor lung health.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Pursuits!
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