This post was created in partnership with our friends at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, who are a leading authority for information on lung health and information about asbestos exposure and its link to mesothelioma that affects over 3,000 people per year in the U.S.
3 Exercises to Improve your Lung Capacity Towards Happy Breathing
We often exercise our muscles and our minds, but sometimes it is easy to forget about focusing on the organ that literally keeps us breathing - our lungs. In the spirit of October's Healthy Lung Month, here are three simple exercises to improve your overall lung capacity.
Why Exercise for Better Breath?
According to the Department of Health and Human services adults should get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week. Exercise can be soothing and a stepping stone to a more productive life, no matter the fitness level. It is also known to be beneficial for those going through a health crisis. Previously patients were told by their medical professionals to rest while ill but newer research has shown that exercise is not only safe and possible during treatment for illnesses, but it can improve how well you function physically and your quality of life. The following exercises are meant to be simple and should be safe for those with lung disease such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia (PCD), asthma, and mesothelioma. However, before starting any new exercise regime it’s important to consult with a doctor to ensure that you’re healthy enough to safely perform the activity.
Get in A Quick Rib Stretch Anywhere
This stretch is low impact and quick to do anytime! Begin by standing upright with your back arched, then exhale completely letting all the air out of your lungs. Breathe in slowly filling your lungs as much as possible - hold that breath for ten seconds before you slowly exhale. You can do the rib stretch several times in a row or throughout the day as needed.
Follow Up with a Standing Chest Expansion
This standing exercise is a nice follow up to the rib stretch. Remain standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent and arms hanging at your sides. Slowly inhale while raising your arms above your head so that your biceps are parallel with your ears with your palms facing each other. Exhale lowering your arms to the starting position. Repeat as needed. This exercise helps to balance breathing between the left and right lungs.
Go Further When You Focus on Diaphragmatic Breathing
This last exercise is a good final moment of calm to round out the more strenuous exercises. Taking time to focus on diaphragmatic breathing allows you to correctly use your diaphragm while breathing. The breaths strengthen the diaphragm which decreases the work of breathing by slowing your breathing rate, decreasing oxygen demand, and ultimately use less effort and energy to breathe. To begin lie on your back on a flat surface - like the floor or a in a bed. Place a pillow under your head and behind your knees to support your neck and legs. Then place one hand on your upper chest and the other below your rib cage; this allows you to feel the diaphragm move. Next begin breathing in slowly through your nose - you should feel your stomach expand against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain still. Exhale through pursed lips while tightening your stomach muscles. This exercise should be completed in five to ten minute increments three to four times per day. Starting small and working up is imperative - at first when the diaphragm is weak it will be tiring. Once you’ve been practicing diaphragmatic and notice that it is becoming easier, add a book to the top of your stomach to increase the level of difficulty. This exercise is especially helpful if you already have decreased lung capacity such as those suffering from COPD. Pulmonary disease causes air to be trapped in the lungs which presses on the diaphragm. Interested in learning more healthy exercises for your lung health? Want to learn more about the dangers of asbestos and mesothelioma? Visit the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance website for tips, facts, and more resources. And if you have any acute symptoms, speak with a doctor online today.