Everybody wants to improve their health, but most people forget the fact that it includes their lungs as well. Protecting and maintaining lungs is an important step to a healthier life.
Chronic lower respiratory diseases that includes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma were the third leading cause of death in 2010. Also, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women according to the American Lung Association (ALA).
You should remember that just like the heart and other parts of the body, the lungs also age with time. They lose their strength and makes them less flexible making it more difficult to breathe as you get old. You can change that by following certain healthy habits to improve and maintain the health of your lungs even as you step into your senior years.
1) Say NO to tobacco
You must have already heard that smoking increases the risk of lung cancer. It is true, but that’s not the only disease it can cause. Smoking can cause other lung diseases such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, COPD and asthma. Smoking can make these diseases go severe.
Smoking a cigarette causes thousands of chemicals to enter your lungs like nicotine, tar and carbon-monoxide. These chemicals are toxic for the lungs and can damage the lungs. Eventually, the airways become narrow which makes it difficult to breathe.
These chemicals can change lung cells from normal to cancerous and can cause the lungs to age more rapidly.
ALA has stated that within 12 hours of quitting, the carbon-monoxide in the blood returns to normal, within a few months the function of the lungs improve and within a year, the risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker.
Exercise can keep the body in shape but remember that it keeps the lungs in shape too. While exercising, your heart beats faster and the lungs work harder. The body will need more oxygen to fuel the muscles so the lungs boosts activity to deliver oxygen while expelling carbon-dioxide.
When exercising breathing increases from 15 times a minute to about 40 to 60 times a minute which is why it is important to regularly exercise to get you breathing harder.
3) Stay on the safer side and prevent infections
Especially as you age, infections can be dangerous for your lungs. Patients suffering from lung diseases are more at risk of developing infections.
To avoid infections, always keep your hands clean. Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water and avoid touching your face as much as possible.
Make sure you drink plenty of water and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables because they contain nutrients that can help boost the immune system.
4) Take deep breathes
Most of the people only use a small portion of their lungs to breathe by taking shallow breaths from the chest area. Deep breathing can help the clear the lungs and help exchange all the oxygen in the lungs.
Deep breathing can cause a significant increase in vital capacity which is beneficial for the lung function. Deep breathing exercises can make your lungs more efficient as well.