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LUNG CARE: CLEANING AND EXERCISES
Our lungs consist of numerous tubes that gradually shrink in size as we age. Similar to other parts of our body, the spring-like action of the lungs weakens with time. This article aims to address issues such as colds, lung weakness, decreasing oxygen levels, frequent colds, and persistent coughs.
To better understand how we can tackle these concerns, let’s delve into the topic of oxygen. The capacity of an oxygen cylinder is approximately 350 liters. In one minute, we inhale around 6-7 liters of air, and while climbing steps, it increases to 10-15 liters. Hence, in one hour, we inhale approximately 11,000 liters of air. However, this 11,000 liters comprises only 20% pure oxygen, with the remaining 80% consisting of nitrogen and other gases.
Consequently, out of the total air we inhale, only 550 liters are pure oxygen, equivalent to about 1 1/2 cylinders. Engaging in activities like exercise, climbing steps, swimming, cycling, and jogging can easily exceed the capacity of 2 cylinders. As we age, our lung capacity gradually decreases, starting from around 6 liters when we are 20-25 years old. Although this decrease is a natural consequence of aging, individuals with conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) often have lower oxygen levels. Generally, lung capacity decreases in relation to our age and height. The table below provides lung capacity measurements based on age and height for both males and females.
The expansion and contraction of the lungs occur as air enters and exits. This process is facilitated by the muscles within the lung lobes, with the diaphragm being the most crucial. The diaphragm, a muscle separating the chest from the abdomen, descends when we inhale, creating a vacuum that allows the lungs to expand and quickly fill with air. Conversely, it rises when air is expelled from the lungs. Thus, the diaphragm’s efficient functioning is essential for maximizing our lung capacity.
To maintain healthy lungs, it is crucial to completely avoid smoking and minimize exposure to secondhand smoke. Standing next to someone who is smoking can harm our lungs as well. Additionally, it is advisable to avoid areas with high air pollution. You can check the air quality index on Google; if it indicates a maroon color, it signifies significant air pollution, with harmful toxins such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and ozone present. During such times, it is best to avoid going outside. If necessary, wearing an N95 mask can filter the air and offer some protection. Other factors that can impact lung health include home-use mosquito nets, incense sticks, benzoin, wood smoke from cooking in a wood stove, and dust accumulation on bedsheets and pillow covers. Taking measures to mitigate these factors is essential to prevent asthma and allergies.
Cleaning the lungs:
There are several methods for cleaning the lungs:
1. Steam inhalation: Inhaling warm air helps expel mucus. Plain water is sufficient for this process; there is no need to mix it with ointments or other substances.
2. Controlled coughing: This method aids in the removal of phlegm.
3. Cupping: Lie on one side and place your hand on your back in a cupping position. Tap the areas where there is mucus, and gravity will assist in bringing it down.
Exercises to Enhance Lung Capacity:
Incorporating daily breathing exercises into your routine can significantly contribute to improving your lung capacity and overall respiratory health. By dedicating a few minutes each day to these exercises, you can help your lungs function more efficiently, facilitating easier breathing and enhancing your overall well-being. Let’s explore some exercises that can help increase lung capacity.
Warm-up: Begin by inhaling deeply, filling your lungs for a count of 5, and then expel the air forcefully by huffing. Repeat this process 2-3 times to warm up your lungs, preparing them for the exercises that follow.
Pursed Lip Breathing: Inhale deeply, taking in as much air as possible, and then exhale slowly through pursed lips, as if blowing out a candle. Aim for your exhale to be three times longer than your inhale. For instance, inhale for 5 seconds, and then exhale for 15 seconds. Practice this exercise for 5-10 minutes daily.
Belly Breathing/Diaphragmatic Breathing: This technique involves breathing deeply into your stomach or diaphragm. Sit comfortably with your back slightly reclined and place your hand on your stomach. Inhale deeply, allowing your abdomen to rise, and then exhale fully, allowing your abdomen to fall. You can also perform this exercise while lying down, propping yourself up at a 45-degree angle and placing a book on your stomach. Incorporate huffing, pursed lip breathing, and belly breathing into your routine for 10-15 minutes a day. These exercises provide excellent training for your lungs.
Box Breathing: Adopt a pattern of inhaling, holding, exhaling, and holding your breath again, each for a count of 5 seconds. Ensure that each stage of the cycle is performed for an equal amount of time.
Increasing Oxygen Levels:
Engaging in regular physical exercises such as running or walking can help expand the alveoli in your lungs, improving oxygen supply. These exercises enhance your lung capacity and promote better overall respiratory function.
Consuming foods rich in antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, and chromium, can have a cleansing effect on the lungs. These nutrients support respiratory health and can contribute to better lung function.
Consistently practicing these breathing exercises strengthens your diaphragm and helps maintain healthy lung capacity. Individuals with asthma may find that these exercises do not exacerbate their wheezing and can aid in the expulsion of phlegm.
Monitoring and maintaining an appropriate lung capacity for your age and height is essential for overall health. You can measure your lung capacity using a spirometer. It is advisable for everyone to incorporate these exercises into their daily routine to prevent respiratory conditions such as asthma and other lung diseases. By dedicating a small portion of your day to these exercises, you can enhance your lung capacity, improve respiratory health, and experience the benefits of easier breathing. Prioritize your lung health and enjoy the positive impact it can have on your overall well-being.