To keep our bodies ticking over nicely, lung health is critical. It is a cog in the wheel that makes our bodies work effectively. If you suffer oxygen deprivation then it can be serious to your health leading to serious respiratory illnesses and conditions including pneumonia, COPD and asthma. These illnesses attack the lungs causing breathing difficulty. A good way to keep your lungs healthy is by eating a healthy diet. A healthy diet is long term investment to a better lifestyle.
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Water is essential for healthy lungs. Dry lungs are prone to irritation. Each day you should try to drink between six and eight glasses.
Fish high in fat is an excellent choice of food for healthy lungs as they contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids which are linked with lung health.
Apples are the food for adults who want healthy lungs. Apples are effective for adults who want to focus on lung health. A team from St George’s Hospital Medical School, London, studied the diets and lung function of more than 2,500 men aged 45-49. They found that good lung function was associated with high intakes of vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene, citrus fruits, apples, and fruit juices.
Apricots are associated with healthy lungs due to their vitamin A content. The Office of Dietary Supplements notes that vitamin A supports respiratory tract linings, and may lower the risk of lung infections.
Broccoli is a highly antioxidant green vegetable with NRF2-dependent characteristics. As a result, EduBook notes that it is one of the best greens for lung health, especially in individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.
Chicken, turkey, and other small poultry birds can benefit your lungs. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, these foods are high in lung health boosting vitamin A, and your body may absorb animal-based versions of vitamin A better than plant-based versions.
Walnuts are a vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids. Eating regular servings of walnuts — about one handful daily — may help fight asthma and other respiratory ailments according to the “Journal of the American College of Nutrition.”
According to the American Cancer Society, beans can support lung health. Kidney, pinto, black and other beans are good sources of antioxidants, which fight off free radicals that may damage lungs.
Berries are rich in antioxidants, which the American Cancer Society notes protects lungs. Acai and blueberry are two of the top sources, but cranberries, grapes, and strawberries are also good for the lungs.
What can you do outside of diet?
You can also help keep your lungs healthy by making them stronger and more resistant to fatigue, which in turn could potentially help them fight off infection.
COPD is a lung disease caused by a persistent blockage of airflow from the lungs. COPD is a life threatening disease that interferes with normal breathing.
COPD has one prevalent symptom – breathlessness. Other symptoms include abnormal sputum (a mix of saliva and mucus in the airway) and a chronic cough. Every day activities such as climbing stairs or carrying a heavy bag an become difficult over time as the condition worsens.
Diagnosis and treatment
A simple test called a ‘spirometry’ will confirm if you have COPD. This test measures how much a person can inhale and exhale, and how fast air can travel into and out of the lungs. COPD is a condition that develops slowly. People over the age of 40 frequently have it diagnosed.
The condition is not curable. However, treatment can help control the symptoms and also increase the quality of life of sufferers.
COPD is preventable. The primary cause of COPD is tobacco smoke (including second-hand or passive exposure). Other risk factors include:
indoor air pollution (such as solid fuel used for cooking and heating);
outdoor air pollution;
occupational dusts and chemicals (vapours, irritants, and fumes);
frequent lower respiratory infections during childhood.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a life-threatening lung disease that interferes with normal breathing – it is more than a “smoker’s cough”.
An estimated 64 million(*) people had COPD worldwide in 2004.
More than 3 million people died of COPD in 2005, which is equal to 5% of all deaths globally that year.
Almost 90% of COPD deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
The number of deaths from COPD has increased more than 60% over the last 20 years.
POWERbreathe is drug-free and has no side-effects or drug interactions, POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training will complement your prescribed COPD medicine, but we would recommend you speak to your medical practitioner before starting any exercise training plan.
Read more about COPD and managing your shortness of breath with breathing training.
The sport of swimming involves your head being submerged in water most of the time so it is important to gain the correct swimming balance. The majority of swimmers put a lot of concentration, practice, focus and effort into improving their swimming style. However, if the basic breathing techniques are not being followed all this effort goes to waste and what happens is the swimming stroke will lose its smoothness. It is essential that anyone who swims professionally or swims to get fit follows the correct breathing techniques and exercises. Initially at the beginning it may be challenging to focus on breathing and executing the swimming stroke, but with practice the difference will soon be noticeable.
How to improve swimming breathing techniques
Focusing on two things at once can be difficult – ensuring the stroke is being performed correctly and ensuring the right swimming breathing technique of inhaling and exhaling is being followed. Initially, always start off with a basic practice swimming routine. This way the chances of inhaling water are minimal. A very simple breathing exercise that can be performed by dipping your head in a large or medium mixing bowl filled with water. Placing a mirror at the bottom of the water-filled bowl will ensure better results.
The steps below will ensure you perfect your breathing technique:
First dip your chin in the bowl and practice swimming breathing nose inhaling, mouth exhaling and see how your breath ruffles the surface of water.
After about 30 seconds, touch your lips & nose to the surface and try to inhale through the small amount of space at both the corners of the mouth. A blotting effect should be seen (in the mirror) where the lips and nose touch the water.
After another one minute, you need to lower the rest of your face into the bowl. Keep your mouth open underwater, but do not exhale. The natural air pressure in your mouth will prevent the water from entering your nose and mouth.
When you next lift your face out of the water, you should be able to inhale from the nose easily.
Repeat these exercises and gradually make an attempt to inhale from your nose, while the tip of your nose still touches the water.
It won’t be long before you master this technique. As soon as you are used to breathing with the mixing bowl, you can then progress to a shallow pool where you can submerge your head in deeper water.
Breathing exercises for swimmers are considered a primary part of their training because breathing in a rhythm means more stamina. If you are able to inhale more air then you can get more oxygen in every breath and breathing in a rhythm will let you swim for a long time before you are winded out.
Running is a form of aerobic exercise. Quite literally, ‘aerobic’ means ‘with oxygen’. We need to breathe to get oxygen into the lungs. Although this sounds obvious, some runners have a shallow or laboured breathing style. However, there are some cases where this style of breathing results in severe muscle cramps, side stitches, poor performance or premature fatigue. Not only that, shallow breathing can also result in anxiety, which can be counter-productive if you run for relaxation. Anxiety also causes physical tension which can result in a loss of energy – resulting in less energy for your workout.
The majority of runners only use the upper two thirds of their lung capacity. However, diaphragmatic breathing, which fills the lower part of the lungs, can increase a runner’s aerobic capacity, reduce stress and even help to eliminate the dreaded runner’s cramps.
Deep breathing exercises can be performed prior to a run or during a run. However, depending on when they are performed, there is a slight variation in technique. Prior to a run, take a deep breath in through the nose and hold for five counts. Then, slowly release the breath through the mouth. Holding the breath during a run is not recommended. Simply breathe in for five counts, and then breathe out for five counts. Keep in mind that it is not always easy to breathe through the nose while running. If this is the case, go ahead and breathe through the mouth.
Many runners do not realise that while they run, they are holding tension in their shoulders, wrists, hands and jaws. The exhalation phase of the deep breathing exercise is a good time to release this tension. As you exhale, you can shake out your hands, roll your shoulders and open your mouth to relax your jaw.
Although rhythmic breathing may be difficult to master, it can be an excellent way to coordinate your breathing patterns with your running movements. In fact, elite runners use this method as a means of ensuring an even rhythm to their running. Most elite athletes use a 2-to-2 breathing rhythm. This means that they take two steps per inhale, and two steps per exhale. At the end of the race, they might switch to a 2-to-1 rhythm, which involves a two-count inhalation followed by one-count exhalation.
The Cleansing Breath
When you wake up feeling congested, it may be difficult to motivate yourself for a run. Provided that you are not seriously ill, the cleansing breath can open your sinuses and clear out congestion, which might make it easier to go for a run.
The cleansing breath is borrowed from yoga. Use the two middle fingers of your left hand to close off your right nostril. Breathe in for four counts through your left nostril. Then, use your thumb to close the nostril. Hold the breath for four counts, and then release your fingers from your right nostril, and let the breath out for eight counts.
Repeat the process on the right nostril, using your right hand to close off the left nostril. After you’ve repeated the exercise a few times, you might want, and in fact be able to blow your nose.
Warming up your breathing muscles
These breathing techniques for running will help with your running performance, but don’t forget that you also need to warm-up your breathing muscles before a run, just as you warm –up your other muscles to help prevent injury. Warming up your breathing muscles can help to eliminate excessive breathlessness during the start of your run, and help you get into a natural breathing rhythm. Inspiratory muscle training targets your breathing muscles and is ideal for a pre-run warm-up and to help improve running performance.
Maintaining health and fitness is tough and usually it is our body that takes the strain. However, if you think that is tough try being a pair of lungs. Toned thighs and abs get respect but the lungs don’t get treated with respect. The lungs fuel each and every breath we take and it seems we take them for granted. Following some basic healthy habits you can have fit and healthy lungs with incredible capacity throughout your life. The main priority is to try and avoid smoke and air pollution, and now that smoking is no longer allowed in public places, this has become easier
Asthma’s main characteristics are chronic swelling and narrowing of the bronchi. However, despite improved air quality the number of asthma cases is still on the rise. Most people’s asthma is caused by allergies – dust being the main one.
Anyone who suffers from asthma will frequently cough, and this is usually worse at night time, during exercise and even when laughing. An asthma sufferer will sometimes have trouble breathing and may experience a tightness in the chest as well as wheezing.
If you have any of these symptoms you should see your GP immediately. He will prescribe appropriate medication which could include inhalers.
Bronchitis is the result of an infection. This infection causes the lining of the bronchial tubes to become inflamed which results in mucus production and airway obstruction. Usually acute bronchitis is caused by viruses but bacterial and fungal infections can also cause this condition. Bronchitis can last for up to 10 days but the cough may persist. If this lingers past 10 days consult your GP to check it is not pneumonia. If you are a smoker or suffer from asthma it is more than likely that you will have acute bronchitis symptoms.
Anyone who suffers from bronchitis will have a deep cough which could lead to you producing clear or yellow mucus. This will be accompanied by wheezing, fever and chest tightness and pain.
If you suffer these symptoms see your GP immediately as you may need antibiotics. Take plenty of rest, fluids, vitamin C and zinc.
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is the term for chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Many people are under the illusion that it only affects the elderly – WRONG! In the USA it is the third biggest killer behind heart disease and cancer. COPD usually affects smokers but around 10 – 20% of COPD sufferers are non smokers. Other factors that contribute to COPD include poor air quality and family history.
Anyone who is a sufferer of COPD will have a constant cough and this often produces lots of mucus. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and wheezing.
If you notice any of these symptoms, especially if you are a smoker then you should go and see your GP immediately. Your GP will conduct a screening test, the same as the one for asthma sufferers as well as a full physical exam. If you do have COPD the single most important thing you can do is to stop smoking.
If you suffer from any of the above respiratory conditions we would love to hear how you deal with the condition. Please post in the comments below.
Simply defined, asthma is a medical condition which affects the airways in some people. These airways are tubes which help us transport oxygen into and out of the lungs.
Breathlessness and wheezing are a couple of the symptoms of asthma. These symptoms differ in severity from person to person. Some people may suffer symptoms several times a week, or in worse cases several times a day. Asthma can be at its worst during physical activity, when it’s cold, or at night. An asthma attack is caused when the lining of the bronchial tubes swells up. This then causes the airways to narrow which results in a reduction of air flow into and out of the lungs. Recurrent asthma symptoms frequently cause sleeplessness, daytime fatigue, reduced activity levels and school and work absenteeism.
Asthma is a disease which affects the way we breathe. The condition is a chronic one and affects the tubes that go to and leave the lungs.
Over 200 million people suffer from the condition and it is prevalent among children.
Countries that have low to middle income are the countries that have the highest rate of asthma related deaths.
The biggest contributors to asthma are inhaled substances and particles that cause allergic reactions which lead to irritation of the airways.
Asthma can be controlled by using suitable medication. The severity of asthma can also be reduced by staying away from known asthma triggers.
People can still enjoy a good quality of life if they manage their condition appropriately.
Asthma is a disease which cannot be cured. However, proper management of the disease can control it and enable you to live a good quality of life. Some symptoms can be relieved by using short term medication. However, anyone suffering from severe asthma symptoms must take long term medication on a daily basis to control exacerbation of the condition. It isn’t just medication that controls asthma. You have to be vigilant at avoiding asthma triggers and anything that will cause the airways to swell.
Creating a personal action plan in conjunction with your asthma nurse or GP will help you manage your asthma. It should include details about your medicine and emergency information but it could also include details of your POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training plan.
Because POWERbreathe is drug-free and has no side-effects or drug interactions, POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training will complement your prescribed asthma medicine, but we would recommend you speak to your medical practitioner before starting any exercise training plan.
Read more about exercise-induced asthma and managing your shortness of breath with breathing training.
Here is an excellent blog from one of our bloggers Melissa Brand. Beat your Best winner 2011, Melissa Brand has just finished the Marine Corps Ironman World Championship 70.3 in Las Vegas, Henderson Nevada, in just under a week. Melissa earned the right to participate in the championship when qualifying at an Ironman 70.3 event this year. Read this amazing blog to read all about it. Some great pictures too.
September 9th seemed to come around much sooner than expected. My preparation for the event commenced way back in autumn 2011, when I started a comprehensive strength and conditioning programme. The most important element of this was to improve the function and strength of my glutes and hamstrings which I had come to realise that I had not been fully utilising. With this base of strength I was then able to layer the other training on top.
Since last year I have focused predominantly on my running and cycling. For the same amount of training time I knew I could make up a lot more time on the run/cycle elements of the race than on the swimming. Through the winter I raced some cyclocross, ran cross country and maintained my swimming.
The early part of the race season I suffered a few setbacks with illness but managed to get a few 70.3 distance (half ironman) races under my belt. I was fortunate enough to spend nine days in Mallorca pre-Las Vegas. This was key as part of my heat acclimatisation; it is never consistently hot in the UK and therefore it is hard to acclimatise without going abroad or using a heat chamber.
I arrived in Las Vegas eight days before the race. This allowed me the maximum time available for heat acclimatisation, adjustment for the time difference and a chance to recover from the long flight. I used the time to recce the swim, bike and run courses, but also to enjoy time for rest and recovery pre-race. In the usual way, I have to try and balance these things whilst working full time.
Race day dawned and I was up at 3 :15 am to drive to the race venue. I prepared my bike in transition and then waited nervously for the swim start. The swim element of the course takes place in Lake Las Vegas and comprises a 1.9 km loop. It is a stunning setting. The water was warm which meant that it was a non-wetsuit swim. This is a disadvantage for the weaker swimmers who are usually aided by the buoyancy of wearing a wetsuit. The swim started in waves according to sex and age and my wave went off at 07:10 am. Once started my nerves disappeared and I got on with racing!
My goggles got knocked off pretty much immediately in the frantic race start, I managed to recover them and replace them on my face only to then get kicked in the nose. These might sound like worrying things but they are scenarios that you need to be mentally prepared for before entering the water.eant that it was a non-wetsuit swim. This is a disadvantage for the weaker swimmers who are usually aided by the buoyancy of wearing a wetsuit. The swim started in waves according to sex and age and my wave went off at 07:10 am. Once started my nerves disappeared and I got on with racing!
Out of the water and out onto the bike course I was in my element. I focused on overtaking everyone I could see, male or female. I worked the hills thinking that if I could work hard up them I would get a rest downhill on the other side. I made up a lot of time on the bike after my disappointing swim. The bike course takes you out of Lake Las Vegas resort and into the unforgiving desert. Far from what I have always imagined, deserts are not always flat! The bike course is hot, arid and hilly. The route took us out into the desert and back along the same route, finishing in Henderson.
Starting out on the run my legs felt great. One thing people often find when they start out in triathlon is that their legs feel like jelly after cycling hard. I felt fresh and strong. Unfortunately though the mercury was rising, and as the day progressed it got hotter and hotter. I really began to suffer after about 8/9 km. The gaps between some aid stations were relatively long and I was becoming dehydrated. I had been sick on the bike but wasn’t going to let that stop me, but it did mean that I stopped taking in any gels and energy drinks in fear of upsetting my stomach further. I know that this was likely heat and stress induced as my nutrition was all practised in advance but the heat and race intensity can play havoc with your digestive capabilities. I took on as much cola as I could, for the energy and also because it can help settle your stomach. I also drank plain water. At every aid station I poured water (sometimes not cold unfortunately) and ice (where available) over my head. This worked to an extent to keep my core temperature down. Everyone suffered in the heat and it meant that my run time was unfortunately slower than I had hoped.
Overall my time was just a little slower than last year but the conditions were definitely more demanding this year and the run course included one extra hill on each lap. So overall I placed better than last year as everyone’s times were comparatively slower.
I placed 21st in my category, which is less than I believe I am capable of, but it is a step in the right direction. I will be back for more!
A massive thank you to Team Timex and the team’s sponsors for their support pre-race and on course, also many thanks to Maxifuel for their support throughout the year.
We would like thank Melissa for providing this great blog and photos and would also like to congratulate her on her amazing achievement.
If you want to keep uo to date with Melissa follow her on Twitter. Please feel free to leave a comment below 🙂
In the final miles of a long run or triathlon run, your leg muscles become very tired. But your hamstrings, quadriceps and calves are not the only muscles that become fatigued during a hard run.
Your respiratory muscles may also become tired during the workout that you are giving them. As it is these muscles which fatigue first it is the fatigue of these muscles that limit your performance. As these muscles fatigue signals are sent to your nervous system telling it to redirect oxygen from the muscles of your limbs to those of your diaphragm to keep them going. Therefore, during the running the reason your legs may begin to fatigue first is because your respiratory muscles have begun to fatigue first.
Anyone who is a triathlete will be fully aware that during each phase – running, swimming or cycling they will be breathing hard. But few pause to consider that hard breathing requires intense work by the respiratory muscles, which are just as susceptible to fatigue as other muscles. Some scientific evidence does suggest that respiratory muscle fatigue is a limiting factor when it comes to endurance sports performance. However, you may not know this but these muscles can be trained independently of the rest of the body. Take a moment and think you may be doing this right now as you are sitting still and breathing.
Naturally, our everyday breathing is too easy to have a conditioning effect on your respiratory muscles, but when you inhale and/or exhale against resistance with a respiratory muscle training device, these muscles may be taxed even more than they are when you swim, bike and run. As a result, they become stronger and more fatigue-resistant and therefore less limiting in your triathlon performance.
Inspiratory muscle training can benefit all the three disciplines of a triathlon. Where using a breathing training device if you are a runner this is where you will see the benefit of using such device as when running your body is demanding more oxygen
The phrase ‘use it or lose it’ applies equally well to the inspiratory muscles as it does to your leg muscles. Everyone becomes lazy at some point and a classic example is using the lift because you get out of breath using the stairs. If this is you then you don’t realise it but your inspiratory muscles are getting less exercise.
Most clinical trials that have focused on IMT have all returned positive results. These results indicated that IMT improves sports performance in swimmers, rowers and runners (source: Volianitis et al, 2001; Klusiewicz et al, 2008; Riganas et al, 2008) cyclists (Romer et al, 2002a; Romer et al, 2002b), and swimmers (Kilding et al, 2010; Wells et al, 2005; Mickleborough et al, 2008).
Not only were clinical trials conducted on sports professionals but they were also conducted on people who had respiratory conditions such as COPD, asthma, emphysema and bronchitis, anyone who has heart disease or a lung disorder or anyone who suffers shortness of breath. From all the studies conducted the end result was the same – inspiratory muscle training using a breathing trainer provides the following benefits:
Reduction in dyspnoea during exercise in athletes and during light exercise for respiratory patients.
Reduced medication and improved quality of life in people with respiratory illness.
Increased endurance in patients with improvements in some lung function.
Improves rowing performance
As soon as you introduce IMT into your rowing programme you will notice the benefits almost immediately. Rowing requires you to use your breathing muscles. By using a breathing trainer the rower is able to control their breathing pattern as well as improve their intercostal muscle function.
Improves running performance
Runners who use a breathing trainer will find it allows them to maintain a deeper, slower breathing pattern while also enhancing their core stability and improving their overall postural control when running.
Improves cycling performance
Using a breathing trainer for cycling is very effective. Inspiratory muscle training will improve breathing and improve the cyclist’s ability to maintain a correct breathing pattern. Regular training with a breathing trainer will also allow the inspiratory muscles to operate comfortably in the most extreme of cycling positions.
Using a breathing trainer for inspiratory muscle training can enhance the overall function of the breathing muscles for anyone who participates in high performance sports such as football, rowing and cycling. However, if you suffer from any respiratory illnesses such as COPD or asthma, then a breathing training device is a great supplementary COPD treatment aid.
12th august and we had a date at Desford for the annual triathlon that takes place. such a great venue and hooray the sun was shining so overall a good start to the event! Even better almost 200 competitors turned up to participate.
POWERbreathe sponsored the event and we had exposure on their website, race numbers, as well as on t-shirts which were given to all the finishers. Goody bags were also given out with leaflets in them and all results are to be sent to all the Triathlon media for inclusion on their results pages generating more awareness.
Overall the triathlon at Desford was an excellent day for POWERbreathe. Many people took part in the POWERbreathe tests and were increasingly surprised by the results.
Yet again we spread the POWERbreathe awareness. Check out the photos and please tag yourselves in if you attended.