Since we are born, the very first thing we do is we breathe! Breathing feeds oxygen to every cell in the body through the lungs and expels out waste carbon dioxide. However, we usually take our lung functions and breathing for granted. We don’t consider the importance of our lungs unless we experience breathing problems, and the COVID-19 pandemic teaches us this!
A lung capacity and volume are the total amounts of air that hold your lungs during inspiration and expiration. Over time, as we age, our lung capacity and functions decrease. Smoking, pollution, and other health problems such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can make it worse.
Though a person unable to control the amount of oxygen their lung can hold, lung exercises provide ways to help your lungs become more efficient at managing airflow and oxygen levels. Here are some basic exercises to improve your lung health along with its functional capacity.
1: Pursed-lip breathing
Pursed-lip breathing exercise is easy and can be done anywhere at any time. This exercise keeps your airway open for longer that facilitates the airflow into and out of the lung. These make it easier for the lungs to function and improves the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. This exercise can be beneficial for people who have less physical activity and not using their breathing muscles frequently. Steps to follow pursed-lip breathing –
2: Diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing
Diaphragmatic breathing is one of the best exercises that use a diaphragm, a dome-shaped sheet of muscles present between the chest and abdomen. It is also known as belly breathing as the stomach rises and falls with each breath. It is supposed to be primary breathing, but many of us develop a habit of using neck and back muscles that limit the amount of air that enters and leaves the lungs. Follow these steps to practice diaphragmatic breathing –
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3: Rib stretch
Rib stretch itself suggests what it says, stretch your ribs, which move during each breath.
4: Yawn to smile
This exercise gives space to your diaphragm to expand and provides strength to the chest muscles.
Any activity that works the abdominal muscles also works the lungs. A simple humming can increase your lung capacity. It also forces stale air out of the lungs so more fresh air can enter. It reduces stress and can help the patient remain in restoration mode.
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6: Simhasan or Lion pose
It is a unique pose that requires you to make a sound. The sound created during Simhasana resembles the roaring sound of a lion.
Benefits of breathing exercises
The diaphragm is a group of muscles attached to the bottom of your lungs and is the main apparatus that controls breathing. When it contracts (along with other muscles in your lungs and ribs) it forces air into the lungs. Using your shoulders and neck muscles for breathing can harm your natural breathing process.
While lung exercises are always good for your health, if you have a chronic lung disease, always consult your doctor before starting an exercise regime. Remember, it’s necessary to listen to your body if you have chronic health problems. Also, you have to practice these exercises regularly for better results.
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