1. Practice taking deep breaths daily
Did you know that all the muscles used for breathing can be strengthened through training just like other skeletal muscles? By strengthening respiratory muscles we can improve both lung capacity and function. Research has shown that a daily six-week routine of 20 maximal inhalations, held each for ten seconds, will show a significant improvement. Similar studies have shown that yoga-style breathing and, slow and fast breaths, can improve the flow rate of both inhalation and exhalation.
2. Eat fruit and vegetables
How much salad foods, fruits and vegetables do you eat? These foods directly improve breathing including general lung function. Fresh fruit has been shown to have a protective effect on the decline of respiratory function due to aging. Fruit and vegetables are high in antioxidants (these mop up the disease promoting free radicals in our body), and flavonoids that benefit lung health.
3. Don’t smoke
It sounds obvious but research has shown that smoking cigarettes and cannabis negatively affects nearly every measurable aspect of lung function. If you want to breathe easily, do not smoke anything.
4. Exercise and stay fit
We all know that moving the body is beneficial for general health, however, highly aerobic activities such as swimming and running have shown in studies, that there is marked improvement in both lung capacity and lung function, including vital capacity, inspiratory muscle strength, maximum expiratory pressure, maximal voluntary ventilation, and maximum sustainable ventilatory capacity.
Obesity has dramatic negative effects on lung capacity and function. Weight loss and increased muscle mass improves virtually every traditional measurement of lung function.
How much stress do you live with? Stress creates tension in most parts of our body. Tension in either the abdominal muscles or the expiratory muscles of the rib cage during inhalation limits the respiratory system’s ability to expand and contract, thus decreasing lung efficiency and lung volume. Observe your breath when stressed and notice how shallow it becomes. To simply relax and allow the natural involuntary forces to take place can improve your breathing and relax you. The benefits of yoga on lung function are presumably at least partially related to relaxation.
6. Check Vitamin D Levels
Latest research is showing that vitamin D is responsible for much more than just bone health. This sunshine vitamin is proving important for respiratory health too.
There is an emerging epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency in the Western world, even though it’s readily available and in plentiful supply from sunlight on our skin. We spend so much time indoors, behind glass and actively reducing sun exposure with sunscreen and clothing to reduce skin cancer that we are missing out on this essential vitamin.
Recent research has shown that Vitamin D supplementation has a beneficial role in lung function and the prevention and treatment of infectious illness including being highly protective against respiratory infections.
All you need is 15 minutes in the midday sun each day. If you are at risk of skin cancer and need to cover up, then you may need to supplement with a capsule of Vitamin D3 1000iu daily.
Learn about ProVent for respiratory health