It is easy to overlook the natural wonder of breathing; after all it is automatic. This automatic process rhythmically takes place every second. Flowing air into our lungs and expanding oxygen throughout our bodies, breathing is crucial for survival. Our lungs are one of our biggest organs, yet most of us overlook maintenance and care. We are all subject to things such as toxins, allergies and pollution in the air. This can build up over time affecting our lung performance and health. Unhealthy lungs can lead to things such as pulmonary disease, respiratory issues, and heart disease. What most of us don’t know is that Ordinary regular activity is not enough to keep your lungs clear. Just like the rest of our bodies, in order to keep it at peak performance, we need to give some extra TLC. Below are ways to increase your lung health along with your oxygen consumption. Becoming more aware of the importance of our lung health can be the stepping stone to better overall health and a happy healthy respiratory system.
A rather simple way to get in better oxygen flow is to become more aware of your posture. Bad posture is hard to break because it is an unconscious tendency. We naturally position our bodies in a way that feels comfortable, but are not always aware of the impact some of these positions can have on our breathing. The more we dis-acknowledge the position of our bodies the more automatic and unconscious our posture becomes. Our muscles surrounding our lungs are also impacted from bad posture. Long durations of slouching, sitting, and leaning actually shortens these muscles- causing them to tighten. To maximize your breathing, the muscles surrounding our lungs need to be flexible and relaxed. This allows them to expand properly with the movement of our lung contractions. If these muscles become tight it leaves little room for our lungs to expand, ultimately shortening our breath. If you have ever been subjected to a tight pair of pants, or too tight of a belt you can relate to the feeling of being contracted around your lungs . Understanding the relationship between your back and core muscles as well as your spine can help change your posture and your breathing. Depending on your posture, strengthening certain muscles in your back side and core can help your spine position. Certain exercises can help open up a tight chest. The key factor to changing your posture is by practicing body awareness. Although it takes time, regular corrections to improve posture will become habitual and help the expansion of your lungs to reach a deep breath.
Bump Up The Intensity
During exercise the lungs are heart are a systematic duo that keep energy flowing. Our lungs work to bring oxygen throughout the body and remove and waste products. When your lungs are functioning well you are able to get through exercise without feeling out of breath. It is always pleasing to know we are in good shape and have good endurance during exercise. Although your body is still reeling the benefits, adding in intensity is the best way to challenge your lungs. You may have heard the term V02MAX, this is our maximum amount of oxygen consumption during exercise. Our VO2MAX is in correlation to our fitness level and endurance. By increasing our VO2MAX we increase our level of performance in both our bodies, and our lungs. As the lungs are muscle you want to train them to be stronger as this will allow them to take in larger amounts of oxygen. High intensity exercise will push your lungs, leaving you with that “ out of breath” feeling. Just as we would eventually move from 5 lb dumbbells to 10lb dumbbells to increase our bicep strength, we must increase the intensity of exercise to strengthen the lungs. High intensity exercise includes : high speed sprinting, interval training, any exercise done at higher speeds with low to moderate rest in-between.
Hydration is important to our bodies function from our cognition to our guts. Water is a natural cure for many conditions. What most of us do not know is its role on the lungs. Dehydration can drastically contribute to breathing problems. Dehydration can trigger asthma symptoms, allergies, and COPD. Naturally Water helps the thin the mucus inside of our airways and lungs. With inadequate water our bodies are unable to keep this mucus thin. Ultimately this leads to a thicker mucus that can be dangerous and cause issues breathing as well as respiratory infections. Our lungs are a major organ in detoxification. With inadequate amounts of water we are unable to rid toxins from the body through respiration. With toxins lingering in the lungs and airways we also become prone to inflammation. Drinking water is a simple solution to keeping your lungs in good health. It is important to not wait till you feel thirsty to intake water. Having a regular drinking schedule can help increase fluids, so can a daily goal in ounces. If you are active remember to bump up your intake beyond the 8 recommended glasses per day.
The health of such an important organ in our bodies is often overlooked. Regardless if you currently face any cardiovascular issues, maintenance is the key to good health. Becoming proactive about lung health can prevent many causes of sickness and disease. Other things you can incorporate to improve your lung function include; learning breathing techniques, steam therapy, anti inflammatory foods, and regular intake of antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E. Giving your body extra care can bring peace of mind and in this case; the ability to take a deep breath.