Every day your lungs keep you alive, one breath at a time. How could you help them take better care of you? With these five ways you can love your lungs and boost your longevity and wellbeing along the way.
Even if your lungs are no longer in perfect shape – you may suffer from shortness of breath, asthma, or COPD – there are still a lot of proven lifestyle choices you can make to better serve your lung capacity and strength.
Regular exercise is good for your lungs. The lung experts of American Lung Association recommend exercising 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Even simple habits like taking up gardening can benefit your lungs. You could download a pedometer app for your phone and start walking sometimes instead of driving or travelling by public transport.
It’s surprising how quickly you’ll be able to do more, if you increase your activity level with small steps. Mild breathlessness will gradually strengthen your lung capacity. You may eventually want to take up a new sport, like swimming, cycling, badminton, or bowling.
A healthy diet is essential for an overall healthy body – including our lungs. For example, drinking enough water plays a big part in keeping your lungs clear of mucous.
According to a Johns Hopkins study, the natural decline of lung function was slower in former smokers who had a diet high in tomatoes and fresh fruits. So, the old wisdom ‘an apple a day’, may also apply to lung health.
The American Lung Association also suggests a link between lung health and a diet rich in vitamin D, as it helps to reduce airway inflammation and boost immune system. Egg yolks, fatty fish, mushrooms and fortified milk, or soy products can all be good vitamin D sources.
Depending on where you live, air pollution may be impossible to avoid, but what about your indoor space? Artificially-scented air fresheners, candles, and cleaning products, particularly bleach-based, contain substances that can be harmful to the lungs.
You can make your own recipes for house cleaning using essential oils or green cleaning agents. An air humidifier helps moisturise the indoor air. Plants are also your allies, as they increase oxygen levels at your home or office.
Have you ever thought about improving the wellbeing of your lungs by singing? It doesn’t matter if you’ve never sung before, just start belting out tunes in your car or in the shower or sign up for vocal lessons. Joining a regular group will expand your lungs and your social network.
In 2017, the Canterbury Christ Church University in the UK carried out a ten-month study of 106 COPD sufferers, who sang weekly for an hour. The study found that participants could exhale more air per second, compared to the beginning of the study. They also reported better posture and breath control which they could transfer into their daily lives.
What do gratitude and good lungs have in common? Mindfulness as a daily practise is a proven stress reliever, helping people live well while managing symptoms related to chronic disease.
But how can you practise mindfulness for your lungs? Even if the idea of meditation doesn’t resonate, consider just pausing now and then. Take a deep breath in. Feel your lungs expand, feel them as strong and powerful, keeping your body oxygenated and alive, and as you slowly exhale, why not just say: thank you for being there!
By Laurel Colless
Photo by iStock
Garcia-Larsen V, F. Potts J., Omenaas E., Heinrich J., Svanes C., Garcia-Aymerich J., G. Burney P., L. Jarvis D., (2017) Dietary antioxidants and 10-year lung function decline in adults from the ECRHS survey. European Respiratory Journal Dec 2017, 50 (6) 1602286
Skingley, A., Clift, S., Hurley, S., Price, S. and Stephens, L. (2018) Community singing groups for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: Participant perspectives. Perspectives in Public Health, 138, 1: 66-75.
Orion invests in research and development of treatment options for people with asthma and COPD while also developing the design and usability of the Easyhaler® inhaler device platform. The focus is on safety and quality in each step of the product life cycle while taking care of the environment. All aspects of sustainability - social, economic and environmental - are carefully considered in the whole product life cycle. Sustainability is entwined in the whole process from R&D through manufacturing, including patient use and the disposal of old inhalers.