Breathing exercises heal us in many ways.
Did you know that we exhale 22,000 times a day? Breathing provides us with oxygen – the gas that keeps us alive, it powers our lungs.
Breathing exercises have many benefits for the body, mind, spirit and emotions. By practicing deep breathing we can significantly reduce our stress levels and relax. They make our lungs work more efficiently.
The best part about breathing exercises is that you can do them anywhere and they are easy to master.
With the help of breathing, our lungs transfer oxygen to different cells of our body and dispose of carbon dioxide. However, we sometimes take our lungs and its breathing for granted. The COVID-19 pandemic has made us realize that we don’t think much about our lungs unless we have breathing problems due to poor lung health.
The amount of air that fills your lungs after you inhale and before you exhale is known as lung capacity. As we age, our lung function and capacity gradually declines. It can be made worse by smoking, pollution and other medical conditions, including asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
So let’s know a little more about lung capacity:
What is lung capacity?
How much air your lungs can hold is dictated by lung capacity. Breathing exercises can gradually increase your lung capacity.
The total volume of air in your lungs is called your lung capacity. As we age, our lung function and capacity generally decline.
Asthma An illness that can accelerate the deterioration of lung function and capacity. Breathing becomes challenging and you experience shortness of breath.
Exercises that support lung capacity can keep your lungs healthy and make it easier for your body to get the oxygen it needs.
Here are some simple and effective breathing exercises that will help you improve your lung capacity:
Simple exercises to improve lung capacity
Diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing
This is one of the best and most effective breathing exercises that uses the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a dome-shaped sheet of muscle located between the chest and abdomen that aids in diaphragmatic breathing. As the abdomen ebbs and flows with each breath, this is sometimes referred to as belly breathing. It should be the primary method of breathing, but many of us have poor health habits that reduce the amount of air entering and leaving the lungs. To practice diaphragmatic breathing, follow these guidelines:
- Lie straight and relax your body
- Place your hands gently on your stomach
- Breathe in through your nose and make sure your belly moves outward while your chest stays still
- Exhale slowly for about two seconds, and your stomach should move inward
- Repeat this at least 5 to 10 times
This exercise gives your diaphragm space to expand and strengthens the chest muscles.
Follow these steps:
- Sit up straight on the edge of your bed or chair.
- Extend your arms overhead.
- Create a wide-spread yawn
- Bring your arms down and finish laughing for three seconds.
The pursed lips breathing exercise is the simplest. It can be performed anytime, anywhere and easily. This activity helps promote airflow in and out of the lungs by keeping your airways open for longer periods of time. They increase the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide and ease the burden on the lungs. This exercise can be helpful for those who do not use their breathing muscles much and engage in little physical activity.
Follow these simple steps for pursed-lip breathing:
- sit up straight
- Inhale slowly through your nostrils
- Purse your lips – just like we lips
- Exhale as slowly as possible through pursed lips
A rib stretch is simply stretching your ribs, which moves with every breath.
Follow the steps below:
- Stand up straight with your hands on your hips
- Breathe in air slowly until your lungs are full
- Hold your breath for at least 20 seconds
- Exhale slowly
Breathing in throne or lion pose
This is a distinct position that calls for sound as you breathe. The throne produces a sound similar to the roar of a lion.
- Your knees should be as far apart as you comfortably can, with both toes touching.
- Bring your body slightly forward. Place your palms on the ground, between your knees.
- Move the head back and arch back slightly.
- Open your mouth as far as you can and extend your tongue towards your chin.
- As you exhale through your mouth, make an “ahh” sound through your throat.
- After you exhale through the mouth, inhale again
- Relax in this position and then repeat
Any exercise that engages the abdominal muscles also engages the lungs. A simple hum can increase your lung capacity. Additionally, it pushes stale air out of the lungs to make room for fresh air.
Benefits of Breathing Exercises
- Increases oxygen levels
- Keeps your body relaxed
- Boosts energy levels while calming you down by detoxifying your body and lowering cortisol levels (cortisol is a stress hormone).
- Helps develop abdominal muscles, especially through stretching breathing exercises.
- Lowers your heart rate, which also helps you feel less stressed.
- Lowers blood pressure, which is beneficial for diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Long-term lung capacity and diaphragm strength can be increased through daily breathing exercises.
- Increases lung flexibility, which is important for lung conditions including asthma, COPD and others.
- Increases respiratory capacity to prepare you for the next intense exercise.
Age, obesity, certain medical disorders, and a sedentary lifestyle are some of the factors that can reduce lung capacity. However, there are many things you can do to maintain your lung health.
Your lungs can stay healthy and function at their peak with the support of regular exercise, a balanced diet and abstinence from cigarette use. If you have symptoms of decreased lung capacity, such as shortness of breath, it’s important to see a doctor so they can be evaluated for an underlying illness.
Other breathing techniques mentioned above can help you a lot in maintaining or expanding your lung capacity.
Although lung exercise is always beneficial to your health, you should always talk to your doctor before starting an exercise regimen, especially if you have chronic lung disease. Remember, if you have an ongoing medical problem, you must pay attention to your body. For greater results, you should do these exercises regularly with proper technique.
Frequently Asked Questions (Frequently Asked Questions)
How to test lung capacity at home?
The most common method is to use a peak flow meter. It is a handheld device that helps measure the strength of your breath. You breathe in at one end and the meter immediately shows a reading on a scale.
How to improve lung capacity?
You can also improve your lung capacity by increasing the length of your inhales and exhales. You can also try these breathing exercises mentioned above.
How to improve lung capacity for swimming?
You can test yourself by trying to breathe every five, seven or nine strokes. As you establish a routine, it will help strengthen your lungs. To improve your breathing, try smoothing your swimming stroke.
How to improve lung capacity for running?
Feel your belly expand as you exhale through your mouth and then inhale once more through your nose. Try to hold your breath for 7 seconds before releasing for 8 seconds. To force every last bit of air out of your lungs, you should clench your abdominal muscles. Repeat this process many times.
Do yoga to increase lung capacity
Here are some yoga poses to practice to increase lung capacity:
- Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
- Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
- Dhanurasana (bow pose)
- Sukhasana (cross-legged sitting pose)
- Ardha Matsendrasana (Seated Half Spinal Twist)
- Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
- Chakrasana (Wheel Pose)
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