Breathing exercises heal us in different ways.
Did you know that we breathe in and out 22,000 times each day? Breathing provides us with oxygen—the gas that keeps us alive, it powers our lungs.
Breathing exercises have enormous advantages in terms of the body, mind, soul, and emotions. We may significantly reduce our stress levels and relax by practising deep breathing. Our lungs function more effectively as a result of them.
The best part about breathing exercises is that you can do them anywhere and they’re simple 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 realise that we don’t give our lungs much thought unless we have breathing issues due to poor lung health.
The entire amount of air that fills your lungs after you inhale and before that air is exhaled out is known as lung capacity. Our lung function and capacity gradually decline as we become older. It can get worse due to smoking, pollution, and other medical conditions including asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
So let us know about lung capacity in a little more detail:
What is lung capacity?
How much air your lungs can contain is indicated by lung capacity. Your lung capacity can gradually increase by doing breathing exercises.
The entire volume of air that can be held in your lungs is known as your lung capacity. As we become older, our lung function and capacity usually decline.
Asthma is one illness that can greatly hasten the degradation of lung function and capacity. Breathing becomes challenging, and you feel out of breath.
Exercises that support lung capacity might make it simpler to keep your lungs healthy and provide your body with the oxygen it requires.
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 finest and most effective breathing exercises that use the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a dome-shaped sheet of muscle located between the chest and abdomen that helps in diaphragmatic breathing. As the stomach ebb and flows with each breath, it 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 quantity of air that enters and exits the lungs. To practise diaphragmatic breathing, adhere to these guidelines:
- Lie down straight and relax your body
- Put your hands gently on your belly
- Inhale through the nose and make sure your stomach is moving outward while your chest remains still
- Exhale slowly for about two seconds, and your stomach should move inwards
- Repeat this at least 5 to 10 times
This exercise gives space for your diaphragm to expand and provides strength to the chest muscles.
Follow these steps:
- Sit upright on the edge of your bed or chair.
- Stretch your arms overhead.
- Create a wide-stretching yawn
- Bring your arms down and finish by smiling for three seconds.
Pursed lips breathing exercise is the most simple one. It can be performed anytime, anyplace, and with ease. This activity helps to promote the airflow into and out of the lung by keeping your airway open for a longer period of time. These increase the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide and ease the burden on the lungs. This practice may be helpful for those who don’t use their breathing muscles much and engage in little physical activity.
Follow simple steps to do pursed-lip breathing:
- Sit straight
- Inhale slowly throw your nostrils
- Purse your lips – just like we pout
- Breathe out as slowly as possible through pursed lips
Rib Stretch Breathing
Rib stretch is simply stretching your ribs, which moves during every breath.
Follow the steps below:
- Stand upright position by keeping your hands on your hips
- Slowly inhale air until your lungs are full
- Hold your breath for at least 20 seconds
- Exhale slowly
Simhasan or Lion Pose breathing
It’s a distinctive position that calls for sound while you breathe. Simhasana produces a sound that is similar to a lion’s roar.
- Your knees should be apart as far as you can comfortably do so, with the toes of both feet touching.
- Bring your body a little bit forward. Right between your knees, place the palms of your hands on the ground.
- Move the head back and slightly arch the back.
- As much as you can, open your mouth and extend your tongue toward your chin.
- Make an “ahh” sound with your throat as you exhale through your mouth.
- After you exhale via the mouth, inhale again
- Relax in this position and then repeat
Any exercise that engages the abdominal muscles engages the lungs as well. Your lung capacity can be increased by a simple humming. Additionally, it pushes stale air out of the lungs to make room for fresh air.
Benefits of breathing exercises
- Raises oxygen levels
- Keeps your body at ease
- Detoxifies your body and boosts energy levels while calming you down by lowering cortisol levels (cortisol is a stress hormone)
- Helps in developing the abdominal muscles, especially through stretching breathing exercises.
- Lowers your heart rate, which also helps you feel less stressed.
- Lowers blood pressure, which is advantageous for those with diabetes and hypertension.
- Long-term lung capacity and diaphragm strength can be increased with daily breathing exercises.
- Increases lung flexibility, which is important for those with lung conditions including asthma, COPD, and others.
- Enhances respiratory capabilities to prepare you for subsequent intense exercise regimens.
Age, obesity, certain medical disorders, and a sedentary lifestyle are just a few reasons that can cause a reduction in lung capacity. However, there are many things you can do to maintain the health of your lungs.
Your lungs may remain healthy and perform at their peak with the support of regular exercise, a balanced diet, and abstinence from cigarette use. It’s crucial to visit a doctor if you have reduced lung capacity symptoms like shortness of breath so they may be evaluated for an underlying illness.
Other breathing techniques mentioned above, can be of great help to you in maintaining or expanding your lung capacity.
Although lung exercises are always beneficial to your health, you should always talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise regimen, especially if you have a chronic lung illness. Remember, if you have ongoing medical issues, you must pay attention to your body. For greater outcomes, you should do these exercises regularly with the correct technique.
FAQs (Frequently asked questions)
How to test lung capacity at home?
The most common method is using a Peak Flow Meter. It is a handheld device that helps in measuring the strength of your breath. You breathe into one end and the meter instantly shows the reading on a scale.
How to improve lung capacity?
You can also improve your lung capacity by increasing the length of your inhalations and exhalations. You can also try these above-mentioned breathing exercises.
How to improve lung capacity for swimming?
By attempting to breathe every five, seven, or nine strokes, you can put yourself to the test. While you establish a routine, this will aid to strengthen your lungs. In order to improve your breathing, try to smooth out your swimming strokes.
How to improve lung capacity for running?
Feel your tummy rise as you exhale through your mouth and then inhale once more through your nose. Try to hold your breath for 7 seconds before letting it go 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.
Yoga to increase lung capacity
Here are some yoga asanas to practice for increasing lung capacity:
- Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
- Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
- Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
- Sukhasana (Cross-Legged Sitting Pose)
- Ardha Matsyendrasana (Sitting Half Spinal Twist)
- Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
- Chakrasana (Wheel Pose)