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Inhale, then exhale. For every inhalation, a gush of oxygen flows into our bodies and with each exhalation, a burst of carbon dioxide comes out. A few deep breaths in succession can temporarily calm our nerves, improve our attention, and reduce stress or anxiety.
The body has a natural defense system designed to protect the lungs-keeping bacteria at bay-however chronic lower respiratory diseases are still common, with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma being the third leading cause of death in 2010, according to the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute. Shortness of breath is also one of the hallmark symptoms of COVID-19.
While our lungs naturally become less flexible and lose their strength as we age, there are healthy habits that can be started at any time which provide long-term respiratory benefits. Here are 4 ways to keep your lungs healthy.
Deep breathing clears the lungs and creates a full oxygen exchange. In a smallscale study published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, researchers concluded that deep breathing, even for only a few minutes, was beneficial for lung function-increasing the vital capacity (max lung capacity) of the volunteers after just 2 and 5 minutes of deep breathing exercises.
The American Lung Association (ALA) agrees too. A breathing exercise you can try now is by first slowly breathing in through your nose alone, then breathing out at least twice as long through your mouth. Try counting your breaths. Inhale for 4 seconds, then exhale for 8. Shallow breaths come from the chest, and deeper breaths come from the belly, where your diaphragm sits.
Train Your Lungs
Exercise can keep your lungs in shape just as it does your body. During exercise, the heart beats faster and your lungs work harder. Your lungs will step up their activity to deliver the extra oxygen while expelling additional carbon dioxide.
According to one article, your breathing increases during exercise from about 15 times a minute to about 40 to 60 times a minute. The more consistent we exercise, the more efficient our lungs become. Strong and healthy lungs through exercise also helps to better resist aging and disease.
Avoid Pollutant Exposure
Air pollutants can damage the lungs and accelerate aging. You can reduce exposure by avoiding secondhand smoke, staying indoors during times of peak air pollution, exercising away from heavy traffic, and practicing safety precautions in work conditions that expose you to pollutants.
When it comes to decreasing indoor pollutants, you can: make your home a smoke-free zone, dust the furniture and vacuum at least once a week while wearing a mask, increase indoor air ventilation, and avoid synthetic air fresheners and candles that can expose you to harmful chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene. Aromatherapy diffuser and essential oils are better options to naturally scent the air.
It's a well-known fact that smoking increases the risk of lung cancer. But that's not the only disease it can cause. Smoking is linked to most lung diseases, including COPD, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and asthma. It also makes those diseases more severe.
Smoking also increases the severity of diseases. For example, smokers are 12 to 13 times more likely to die from COPD than nonsmokers. Smoking also causes the lungs to age more rapidly, with the chemicals changing lung cells from normal to cancerous.
Quitting can help at any age. The ALA states that within just 12 hours of quitting, the carbon monoxide level in the blood drops to normal. Within a few months, the lung function begins to improve. Within a year, your risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker's. And it only gets better the longer you stay smoke-free.
By sharing just a bit of time and energy on these tasks, you can help keep your lungs working optimally at any stage in life. Several supplements also help in improving cardiovascular functions. KPTown's Honeyed Sliced Red Ginseng can be taken as a sport or travel snack, especially after an exhausting exercise or a long journey.
To complement that, Manitou Nutrition's Ultra Lung Care helps fight against the oxidative damage caused by free radicals and prevents new influenza and respiratory diseases. Both products are available in KPTown at discounted prices.