Our lungs are one of the most precious parts of our body, collecting life-sustaining oxygen and releasing waste gases for us without even a thought. Though you might not give conscious awareness to each breath you take, consider some intentional care to keep this essential organ functioning at optimal levels. Here are a few tips to keep your lung health at its best.
Avoid Airborne Contaminants
The air we breathe can make or break our lung health. Certain contaminants are particularly offensive, including chemicals, smoke, and asbestos. When inhaled, these substances can cause a whole host of problems: chemicals may irritate or burn the lungs; smoke may cause inflammation, airway damage, or even lung cancer; and asbestos can cause irritation, scarring, or mesothelioma (a type of lung cancer). When possible, avoid areas where these airborne toxins may be present, such as construction sites, heavily polluted cities, or certain factories. To prevent exposure to smog or other widespread pollutants, consider checking air quality before spending extended time outdoors. If daily tasks require exposure to contaminants, take preventative measures, such as wearing appropriate masks, respirators, and/or eye protection to prevent absorption of these compounds.
Get Regular Exercise
One of the most important habits you can establish to keep your lungs in top condition is to get regular cardio exercise. Not only will this strengthen your heart and lungs, but it will also give your body a fresh dose of oxygen to improve your mood and energy levels. Furthermore, cardio exercise can also improve your heart and lung’s efficiency, making it easier for your heart to pump blood and allowing your body to get more oxygen with each breath throughout the day.
Practice Mindful Breathing
Some exercise programs, such as yoga and qi gong, include focused breathing or intentional breath patterns as a part of their practice. Even if you don’t participate in these classes, consider incorporating mindful breathing techniques into your day. While this type of breathing can be done almost anywhere, it’s best to start simple. Here is a basic breathing exercise that you can try: sit up tall and slowly inhale through the nose, allowing the belly to expand. Once the lungs are full, slowly exhale through the nose again. Repeat for five to ten breaths.
Taking care of your lungs can take some thought, but the payout is substantial. While you may not be able to do everything, when you do take the time to care for your lungs, they will continue to serve you well for years to come.