5 Tips for Healthy Lungs
Oct 17, 2018
Every moment, your lungs are working for you, bringing oxygen into your body and removing carbon dioxide waste. Breathing is what keeps our cells working—breaking down nutrients and creating the energy our bodies need to function. This is why healthy lungs are so vital to a healthy body: they literally keep us going!
Chances are, you don’t think much about your lungs day-to-day, but lung health is actually very important. Here are some key facts and best ways to support these important organs you need to thrive.
What are the Lungs and How Do They Work?
Your lungs are two spongy organs located on each side of your chest. They contain branches called bronchi. These branches get smaller and smaller until they end in air sacs, which are where the oxygen your lungs breathe is absorbed into your blood.
Your lungs expand and contract as you take each breath:
- When you inhale through your nose or mouth, air travels down your windpipe and into your lungs, which expand to take in the air. The oxygen moves to surrounding blood vessels and into your blood.
- When you exhale, space in your chest cavity gets smaller, and air full of carbon dioxide (which is produced as a waste product) is forced out of your lungs, windpipe and, finally, your nose or mouth.
This is happening every moment of your life, which is why healthy lungs matter so much!
5 Things to Do for Healthy Lungs
It can be easy to take your lungs for granted. Without you really noticing, they’re supporting you at all times. And to keep them functioning healthfully, it’s good to consider how your daily choices support your lungs.
Here are five factors that help maintain healthy lungs and reduce your risk of lung disease.
1. Don’t Smoke (or, If You Do Smoke, Stop Smoking)
The main cause of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is smoking cigarettes. When you smoke, it can narrow your air passages, causing chronic inflammation, swelling and increased difficulty breathing.
Over time, smoking destroys lung tissue and can even lead to lung cancer. Basically, quitting cigarette smoking (or never starting in the first place) is the #1 best choice you can make for healthy lungs.
2. Avoid Lung-Damaging Pollutants
Several factors in your surrounding environment can cause damage to your lungs over time. Those include:
- Secondhand smoke
- Chemicals (in the home or office)
- Air pollution outside
- Radon, a radioactive gas that can sometimes get into homes from cracks or holes
Try to reduce your exposure to pollutants by avoiding being around smokers, use all-natural cleaners in your home, avoid being outside during dirty air days, and have your home tested for radon.
3. Stay Healthy During Flu Season
Proper hygiene, especially during cold and flu season, can prevent respiratory infections from getting serious and impacting your lungs.
Here are some ways to protect yourself:
- Avoid crowds during cold and flu season, and isolate yourself if you get sick.
- Always wash your hands with soap and water to protect yourself from germs and support your immunity.
- Practice good oral hygiene: brush your teeth at least twice a day, morning and night, and visit the dentist for cleanings every six months. An unclean mouth can affect what you breathe in and what gets to your lungs.
4. Do Aerobic Exercise (and Breathing Exercises)
Cardio workouts can help increase your breathing and lung capacity. There are also certain breathing exercises you can do to boost lung function—such as belly breathing and pursed lip breathing—especially if you have a lung disease.
Plus, both exercise and breathing exercises are good for stress relief!
5. Get Regular Checkups
Regular doctor checkups are a good idea for every body part, including your lungs. Lung diseases are sometimes not found until they’ve become serious, so checkups can help. During regular visits, your doctor will listen to your breathing for any issues.
The Bottom Line
We use our lungs every second of every day, so let’s do everything we can to keep them healthy and functional for many, many years. Stay away from smoke as often as you can, get regular exercise, avoid pollutants in the air, and practice prevention by seeing your doctor and avoiding harmful germs. Your healthy lungs will thank you!