Our lungs already do so much for you. Keep lungs exercise
Try running up to the next block, and see if you feel out of breath. Now imagine having this feeling all the time. This is how someone with weak lungs feels. Fortunately, there are lungs exercise to build stronger lungs. In today’s article, we will be discussing them. Is diaphragmatic breathing enough?
Can baby pushups and pilates help?
What is pursed-lips breathing?
We will be talking about all of this AND more…
1. Diaphragmatic breathing
There is a certain amount of air your lungs can hold. This is called your lung capacity. But with exercises like diaphragmatic breathing, you can increase this capacity. The name diaphragmatic breathing makes it sound like a complicated lungs exercise, doesn’t it?
Nah! It is simply the age-old belly breathing technique. All you will have to do is engage your diaphragm as you inhale and exhale. If you have Chronic Obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), this lungs exercise is all the more beneficial for you. And it will be more helpful if you do it when you’re relaxed. Diaphragmatic breathing also makes your diaphragm stronger.
Wondering how to do it? Here’s a quick outline. Lie down or sit back with relaxed shoulders. Your one hand should be resting on your chest, while the other on your belly. As you inhale air through your nose, feel the air moving into your body and raising the belly.
Your belly should be moving out more than your chest. Now exhale through your nose. Keep your lips shut tight. As you exhale, feel the air moving out and your belly and chest returning to their normal size. Repeat this exercise as many times as you can throughout the day.
2. 20-minute walks
Do you enjoy walking? Start doing it more. Do you hate walks? Walks are great for your lungs. That’s not just me saying it. Even doctors recommend regular outdoor walks for people with lung issues. Walking is the most simple form of exercise to get your heart pumping.
It makes your lungs stronger and builds your legs muscles. Can you say no to all these benefits? Walking strengthens the tissues around your lungs, which means they will function better. But how should you be walking?
Could you be doing it wrong? Yes, there are ways to get maximum benefits from your walk. Since your motto is to get your heart to pump more blood and heal your tissues, it would make no sense if you’re just strolling by.
Walk fast enough to not become overwhelmed. Your head should be up, back straight, and a heel to toe stride needs to be maintained. Remember, posture is everything. Your rib cage should be relaxed so that your lungs can expand easily as you take deep breaths while walking. Going up a hill would be even better. Intensify this activity with time and your lungs will thank you. Are you finding the list useful so far? Well, this next point will surely surprise you.
3. Baby Pushups
If you’re like me and have a love-hate relationship with a pushup, this isn’t for you. Just like normal pushups, baby pushups give you a better posture and stronger arms without the sore shoulders. Your tight muscles will loosen up and give you stronger lungs.
How do you do it? Well, get in the pushup position first. Your body should be flat against the floor. Your neck should be aligned with your spine. Remember, posture has a BIG impact on the effectiveness of an exercise. Take deep breaths and lift your neck, head, and shoulders off the ground while your palms are firmly pressed down to support your body.
Your arms will be slightly bent at the elbows. Now as you exhale, slowly return back to the starting position. Your baby pushups have to be in sync with your breath. Do 10 reps in the starting pose and increase with time. Deep breaths inflate your lungs and give you a higher capacity.
Pilates is the one exercise that can do almost everything for you. It will make your diaphragm stronger, give you controlled breathing, reduce back pain, and lead to toned abs. As if this wasn’t enough, pilates will give your lungs the ultimate strength to withstand all bodyweight exercises.
Now how do you do pilates? First, lie on your back with your feet pressed firmly on the floor. Knees bent. Arms should be on your sides, with palms facing downwards. Inhale as deeply as possible and lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the ground. You should be in the half-sitting position. While you’re at it, lift your legs off the ground.
Make sure your knees don’t bend, and your legs are straight. Your position should be at a 45-degree angle. Take 10 short breaths, and pump your arms up and down ten times. Slowly return to your original position. Pilates will be difficult at first. You might feel as if every ounce of strength in your body is being used at once. But don’t give up and focus on your breath. When you see the results, you will only love it more.
5. Pursed-lips breathing
Pursed-lips are your lung’s best friend. They help you collect more air. The exercise keeps your airways open longer, which means your breaths have a lot less work to do. This slowdown effect on your breathing makes it easy for your lungs to do their job.
Even the oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange will improve. And more points for pursed-lip breathing as it is easy for beginners to do. If you had any struggles with diaphragmatic breathing, take this breathing exercise up first. Practice it at any time.
At home, or outside. So, how do you do it? It’s easy. Shut your lips tight and purse them as if you’re pouting for a selfie. Inhale air slowly through your nostrils. Then exhale through your pursed lips. Remember, your breaths coming out should take twice as long as it took you to breathe in. You just did one round of pursed-lips breathing.
Do as many as you can. It won’t tire you out. In fact, I find concentrating on breath meditative and calming. And all this while you’re strengthening your lungs.
6. Good Posture
Bad posture doesn’t just make you stop and give you back pain. It is suffocating for your lungs as well. When you have bad posture, your lungs get squeezed. They don’t have sufficient space to expand when you take deep breaths.
As a result, you breathe shallow, which reduces the capacity of your lungs. Wait, that’s not all. Shallow breathing means you have less oxygen in your body, which makes you feel tired all the time. So, make sure to correct your posture and make it easier for your lungs to get oxygen. Revive your body by maintaining the right posture.
Now you have all the more reasons to take a dip in the pool. Swimming is great for your body. Your muscles will be more defined, the cardiovascular system gets better, and your lungs will be stronger than what you started with.
Swimming is the perfect lungs exercise that gives you all the benefits of a good cardio workout without leaving you tired. Just make sure you’re breathing in through your nose the entire time while breathing out through your mouth.
This is important because it leads to proper disposal of carbon dioxide from your body, which means no fatigue. Yay!
Running is great for your waistline and your lungs. Sports that build up endurance are very good for your lungs, as you take in more air. You will be surprised to know that the shortness of breath is often wrongly blamed upon lungs while a lot of times it is the muscles giving trouble.
When you are exercising, overexerting your muscles makes them produce lactic acid. Lactic acid gives your muscles soreness. This happens because they don’t have enough oxygen to break down glucose for energy.
Lactic acid makes your body crave more oxygen and in turn, you feel short of breath. When you do endurance sports, your muscles build tolerance against lactic acid and your lungs get saved from hard work.
9. Empty your lungs How do you fill something?
By emptying it first, right? You need to do this with your lungs. Empty them so you can fill them back up with more clean air. How do you do it? Stand straight, keeping your knees loose. Bend over at the waist as you exhale air like you’re emptying your lungs.
Slowly return to the original position while inhaling deeply to re-fill your lungs. Now, as you hold your breath, extend your arms above your head. Hold the position for 20 seconds and then relax your arms. You just completed one repetition.
Do more as per your comfort level. Do you do any of the exercises described in this article? Can you hold your breath for 20 seconds straight? Let us know in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!