How To Keep Lungs Healthy?
"Our ability to breathe is something that we usually take for granted. In fact, when we think about getting healthy, most of us instinctively think of weight loss and fitness. While obesity certainly isn’t good for your lungs and a fitness routine will also improve lung health, there’s a lot more to consider when it comes to strengthening and preserving lung health. Like every other organ of the body, your lungs also suffer from the vagaries of time, becoming less flexible as we age, which makes you more susceptible to respiratory problems. Fortunately, it’s not too late to begin taking care of your lungs as even small changes that you make will help keep your lungs healthy. "
Essential Steps To Promote Healthy Lungs
It doesn’t matter whether you only smoke ‘socially’ or are a chain smoker. Smoking is the worst thing you can do for your lung and is linked to almost every major respiratory illness, not just lung cancer. It can increase the severity of conditions like bronchitis, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and asthma. According to data from the US CDC, people who smoke have a 12 to 13 times higher risk of dying from COPD!
Quitting smoking leads to dramatic and almost instant improvements in lung health, with blood carbon monoxide levels dropping within 12 hours and lung function improving in just a few months.
We already mentioned that exercise improves lung health, but it’s worth delving deeper into the subject because of the huge impact that physical activity has on lung health. When you exercise, it forces both your heart and lungs to work harder to supply your muscles with the oxygen that they need. This means that in addition to strengthening the muscles, exercise also strengthens your heat and lungs.
To reap these benefits, make it a point to get at least 20 to 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise five days a week. This can include aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming.
Avoid Exposure to Airborne Pollutants
Avoidance of environmental pollutants is often beyond our control, but we can take steps to limit exposure. For example, you can avoid secondhand smoke by staying away from spaces that permit smoking, avoid exercise and outdoor activities during hours when there’s more traffic and airborne pollution, wear protective masks if you ride a bike or work at a job that exposes you to airborne pollutants.
Prevent and Treat Respiratory Disorders
The best way to prevent respiratory infections is by maintain stringent hygiene practices – the kind that we have come to learn to live with during the COVID-19 pandemic. This means regular handwashing and avoiding touching your face when travelling or outdoors. Nutrition is obviously most important for immunity, so that you are less susceptible to infections. This means eating a balanced diet, dominated with fresh fruits and vegetables.
Perhaps most importantly, do not ignore respiratory problems that are persistent or severe as this can have a lasting impact on lung function.
Take Up Breathing Exercises
This may seem futile or pointless as you probably think that your lungs are already being exercised constantly. This couldn’t be further from the truth however, as most of us only take shallow breaths, using just a part of the lungs. With deep breathing or diaphragmatic breathing, the lungs expand fully and it creates a complete oxygen exchange. In the long term, this has a strengthening effect on lung function and capacity. These benefits were even observed in aged adults with respiratory muscles that were weakened due to smoking.
In addition to the suggestions mentioned here, it is also advisable to get vaccinated against respiratory infections if such vaccines are available and recommended by your doctor. You can also protect your lungs by maintaining high levels of cleanliness and hygiene at home, since dust and molds that accumulate indoors can adversely affect lung health. Most importantly, don’t skip your health check ups as timely diagnosis and intervention of respiratory ailments can help to prevent permanent damage.
Dr Ahmer Ali Khan
Consultant - Physician
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author. They do not reflect the opinions or views of the organization.