As any parent can testify, most of us are born with powerful lungs. We tend to put them to good use often and at increasing levels of volume as we grow older. But those of us with healthy lungs aren't always thinking about the functional benefits they provide.
Strong lungs are vital for vigorous exercise, which in turn benefits for heart health, circulation, mental acuity, and emotional wellbeing. Lungs also support life’s most simple pleasures. From laughing at a good joke to cheering on your favorite sports teams to blowing out birthday candles, there are a lot of reasons to protect and cherish healthy lungs.
Here are a few simple activities that can make a significant difference in protecting your lungs and taking better care of your health:
Getting your steps in:
The oft-quoted 10,000 steps rule, misquoted and misattributed to Malcolm Gladwell (he suggested 10,000 hours for mastery incidentally), has now been proven not to be the panacea it was claimed to be. That said, regular exercise can help strengthen your lungs, and walking is one of the simplest ways to get moving on an everyday basis.
Cycling, gardening, dancing, and tennis are other examples of light cardio exercises. Swimming is a great option as well to support lung capacity, endurance, good posture, and core strength. Compared to walking or running, it’s also a low-impact exercise option for your joints!
Be sure to talk to a doctor or physiotherapist before starting a new exercise regime, particularly if you haven’t exercised in a while.
Have you always been a wallflower, choosing to softly hum when you are busy in your thoughts instead of crooning to the latest love ballads by Adele? Or perhaps you are just a bathroom singer hoping to score a record deal? No need to be bashful! As it turns out, singing can benefit your lungs in multiple ways. So belt that ballad, sing that song. If the neighbors complain, you can send them this post.
This tip has been getting a lot of screen time, and for good reason. It's worth noting here, not all masks are created equal. The CDC advises against the kind with the exhalation valve. Fabric masks are fine, just make sure they have two layers, and avoid vinyl material that might make it difficult to breathe. If you’re finding your mask to be prohibitively uncomfortable, talk to your doctor about finding the best mask for you.
Keeping an Eye on Air Quality:
There are so many sneaky sources of air pollution and allergens. From agriculture to industry, smog to soot, allergens to ozone – some pollution is seasonal, some is unpredictable, and all of it can affect your lungs. Consider investing in an air purifier that tracks air quality and filters out any particulate matter or volatile organic compounds.
Eating a Balanced Diet:
The conversation on nutrition and lung health is new and niche. There are now a number of articles detailing the antioxidant properties of fruit and vegetables and the medicinal lore of ancient herbs, but few people are aware of how whole grains, legumes, and protein can also play a role. You can read more about that here.