How to boost your lung power

Susannah Hickling 15 November 2021

Want to blow out all the candles on your cake when you’re 75 or climb three flights of stairs without gasping at the top? There are ways and means to boost your lung power

Breathe in through your nose

When it’s hot and dry or very cold, or you’re in a dusty or polluted environment, inhale through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. Our nasal passages filter the air we breathe and regulate its temperature and humidity. When you breathe in through your mouth, everything heads straight for your lungs.

Do simple workouts that strengthen chest muscles

Try this easy exercise to help your chest expand and increase your lung capacity: lie on your back with knees bents and feet flat on the floor. Put your hands behind your head and bring your elbows together so that they nearly touch.

As you breathe in, let your elbows drop to your sides slowly so that your arms are flat on the floor when your lungs are full. When you exhale, raise your elbows again.

To strengthen and train your diaphragm so that every breath you take is easier, breathe from your abdomen for at least five minutes every day. To do this, inhale deeply through your nose, filling your lungs from the bottom up. Your stomach should push outwards. Breathe out and repeat.

Walk up and down the stairs several times a day

This makes your heart beat faster, and helps keep both your heart and lungs in good shape. Brisk walking or riding a bike will have the same effect.

Wear a face mask to do work around the house

Ideally, avoid household products that emit toxic fumes, but if you are using, say, an aggressive oven cleaner or are sanding paint, make sure you wear a face mask to prevent dangerous fragments reaching your lungs. Keep the room well ventilated at the same time.

Tackle sleep apnoea

It’s time to ask your partner the question we all dread the answer todo I snore? If the answer is yes, see your GP and ask for a referral to a sleep centre so you can be checked for sleep apnoea. With this condition, you can momentarily stop breathing numerous times during the night.

And, shockingly, it can damage your lungs almost as badly as smoking, and worsen asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). But the good news is it can be treated.

Eat applesand fish

A study from the University of Nottingham found that people who ate more than five apples a week had improved lung function, less wheeziness and fewer asthma-like symptoms. And eating more Omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish such as salmon and sardines, can help reduce inflammation, which is linked to airway problems such as asthma.

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