The lungs are foundational to the respiratory system, their job is to draw into the body air from the outside and then to pass along the oxygen into the blood stream for circulation. More and more research is proving the interconnection between our organs and our body systems. Each has an impact on the others. The lungs can be impacted by agents that are released from other organs, namely the kidneys, liver, intestines and pancreas.
While breathing is one of the processes our body does automatically, we are often not aware that we may be breathing in a way that is not allowing the body to achieve full and proper intake. One of the consistent issues I see in patient’s cardiovascular health, injury and ineffective workouts falls within the arena of improper breathing. Many people hold their breath during exercise or do not take full deep breaths to fill their lungs. When people experience stress in everyday life the pattern, I see frequently is that they begin to have shallower breathing patterns. When we do not take full deep breaths, we are not utilizing our full lung capacity. We are also not getting enough oxygen to our brain. One of the most helpful things we can do to support clear thinking when we are experiencing upset or stress is to stop and take a few deep breaths. The same goes for when we notice we are not breathing correctly during exercise. Proper breathing is often addressed in functional training and yoga where a focus on the breath in connection to movement is a key focus. There are also some fun and helpful apps that help you to develop better breathing patterns.
Here are 4 ways you can both protect as well as increase lung health:
1. Avoid being around smoke or polluted air. You can filter indoor air to increase the quality and also avoid outdoor activities when the air quality is poor. You can check online weather apps or sites that report air quality.
2. Increase your cardiovascular endurance through balanced and consistent exercise.
3. Practice proper breathing – learning and practicing good breathing habits and patterns will support lung health.
4. Practice good posture – when you sit in a slouched position you are shortening your torso and compressing your diaphragm which decreases depth of breath and fullness of breathing patterns.
For those of you who love to deep dive into more research…