You breathe in and out without a second thought, but you should never take advantage of your respiratory and lung health. Though commonly associated with old age or weak immune systems, respiratory problems can affect anyone.
Fortunately, if you want to keep your lungs strong for life, there are plenty of relatively simple steps you can take.
Here are 13 Lung health Tips For You To Try Today
Avoid Cigarette Smoke
The main culprit of lung disease is smoking. Secondhand smoke also wreaks havoc on lungs, and children and nonsmokers who spend time in areas where cigarettes are allowed are also susceptible to respiratory damage. If you smoke or are regularly around people who smoke, making some lifestyle changes to reduce your exposure to cigarette smoke can dramatically improve your lung health.
Get Some Fresh Air
One of the best prescriptions for healthy lungs is to get outdoors — and not outside in a major city or a commuter-packed area plagued with air pollution, but to a forest or remote park with lots of trees. One study by the U.S. Forest Service found that the fresh air created by trees through photosynthesis radically improves air quality. The study indicated that the mere presence of trees helped prevent as many as 850 deaths and 670,000 cases of respiratory problems in 2010.
Brush Your Teeth
Yes, your oral hygiene can affect your lung health. The bad bacteria in your mouth — the kind that causes gum and periodontal diseases — can cause problems in your lungs. A 2011 American Academy of Periodontology release showed that patients with respiratory diseases were found to have worse dental hygiene than those without, which could be partially caused by oral bacteria traveling into the lungs via respiration. To keep those germs at bay, brush your teeth twice a day, floss, and visit your dentist semiannually.
Respond Quickly to Signs of Illness
Treat any cold or flu symptoms immediately so they don’t escalate into pneumonia or bronchitis, as both illnesses that can have lasting negative effects on your lungs. Get an annual flu shot if you can, and participate in regular checkups with your doctor.
Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector
Though you can’t see or smell carbon monoxide (CO), exposure to the gas can deprive your blood cells of oxygen, pushing your respiratory system into overdrive. The best way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is by investing in a carbon monoxide detector to alert you when the gas is present. There are dozens of CO detector models available for both homes and garages, so it shouldn’t be hard to find one that fits your needs.
Check for Radon
Like carbon monoxide, radon is another dangerous gas that can leak into your home undetected. Exposure to large quantities of radon can result in lung cancer and other complications, so it’s important to check your home’s levels to ensure you’re not at risk. The Environmental Protection Agency suggests using a radon test kit to determine your home’s radon levels, though there are professional services that can perform the tests as well.
Participate in Regular Aerobic Exercise
Experts at the Rush University Medical Center say that lungs at rest are only taking in air at around 50% of their capacity. To improve that statistic, start putting your lungs to good use by exercising regularly. Aerobic or cardio exercise is the best for your respiratory system because it uses both your heart and lungs, improving their endurance and enhancing how well your body uses oxygen. Walking, hiking, and swimming are all types of aerobic exercise that can improve your lung health.
Stretch Your Upper Body
Stretch throughout the day, including before and after you exercise, with a special focus on the upper body. Stretching will improve the performance of both your diaphragm and the intercostal muscles — the muscles you use to inhale and exhale — between your ribs. A few good diaphragm openers to try include stretching your arms overhead or leaning back in a chair to make more room in your chest for your lungs to expand.
Try Breathing Techniques
Improve how well your body uses oxygen with some targeted breathing exercises. The American Lung Association recommends both pursed lip breathing and belly breathing for 5–10 minutes a day to help strengthen your breathing muscles and help you breathe with less effort. Counting your breath over increasingly longer intervals — starting at four seconds per inhale and exhale, and ranging up to nine or ten seconds — can also help improve your lung capacity.
Limit Exposure to Irritants
Any irritant you breathe in can hurt your lungs — including air pollution, chemical fumes, and pesticides — so avoid exposing yourself to them when possible. Try to stay inside on bad air days, and limit your use of harsh bug repellents or weed killers.
Improve Indoor Air Quality
Pollution isn’t limited to the outdoors. Mold, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, dust mites, and pet dander are all prime suspects that can hurt your lungs. Clean the air filters for your air conditioner regularly, and consider an indoor air filter to remove those harmful particles, too.
Certain foods can protect your lungs. Green vegetables rich in antioxidants are particularly beneficial, like broccoli and kale. The flavonoid khellin found in apples aid in opening up airways, as does Vitamin C and even caffeine.
Observe Safety Precautions During Home Maintenance
Some of your home activities can put you at risk for inhaling extra pollutants, like remodeling, woodworking, and painting. Wear a mask to protect your lungs from sawdust and paint fumes, and work only in well-ventilated areas. Take additional care when working in areas that may have lead or asbestos.
Remember, good lung health is crucial for overall health and wellness. Use these tips, and you’ll breathe easy knowing you’re keeping your lungs healthy and strong.