How To Keep Your Lungs Healthy With Exercise

Exercise – or any physical activity – will help to improve your quality of life. Even if you’re not very active doing something physical will help. And if you have a lung condition and are finding breathing difficult, the European Lung Foundation believe exercise will help. Exercise will also help to keep your lungs healthy. However you must always check with your doctor first before engaging in any form of exercise or physical activity.

How exercise affects your lungs

When doing any form of physical activity your muscles will have to work harder than normal. Because of this your body will require and use more oxygen and produce more carbon dioxide. In order to achieve this your heart and lungs work together. It’s your heart that pumps the oxygen to your working muscles. And it’s your lungs that bring oxygen into your body in the first place. Your lungs are also responsible for getting rid of the waste product, carbon dioxide. This is created as you produce energy.

How exercise affects your breathing

Because your muscles are working harder during an activity, your breathing demand increases. You may experience this as feeling ‘out of breath’ and you may need to ‘catch your breath’. When you have healthy lungs you are usually able to cope with this extra demand. But if you have reduced lung function then this extra demand will leave you more ‘short of breath’. This is when breathing feels uncomfortable.

You can help your lungs cope with extra breathing demands

The more exercise you do, the more efficient your lungs will become. But if your breathing prevents you from exercising, then POWERbreathe IMT can help. If you have a breathing problem or reduced lung function then you must talk to your doctor before using POWERbreathe. Please also read our Precautions and Contraindications.

How POWERbreathe IMT can help

POWERbreathe is an inspiratory muscle training device. This means it trains the muscles you use to breathe in; your inspiratory muscles. Your inspiratory muscles help your lungs breathe in as much air as possible. These muscles are mainly your diaphragm and the muscles between your ribs, your intercostal muscles.

How POWERbreathe IMT works

POWERbreathe IMT uses the principles of resistance training. Resistance training makes muscles stronger. POWERbreathe IMT provides you with a variable resistance that you breathe in against. This makes your breathing muscles work harder when breathing in. Because your breathing muscles are being subjected to this training stimulus they become stronger. And with stronger breathing muscles you will have more breathing stamina too. Watch our video that explains How POWERbreathe Works.

How POWERbreathe IMT helps you exercise more

Just like any form of exercise training, the more you do the stronger you become. POWERbreathe IMT will increase your breathing strength. It will improve your breathing stamina. And it will reduce your breathing fatigue. This means it will help you exercise for longer with less effort. With regular POWERbreathe IMT training your breathing muscles will be more efficient. Exercise will become easier. And the more you exercise the more you decrease the risk of developing major illnesses and lower your risk of early death. The more you exercise the more you improve your physical and psychological wellbeing, and quality of life. The European Lung Foundation (ELF) have put together a leaflet about Your Lungs And Exercise which contains more helpful information.

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Autumn – the season of the lung & inspiration

In Oriental medicine autumn is the time for cleaning out old negativity and a time for reflection. It’s the season of the element Metal (or air) and the season of the lung, which is associated with the emotion of letting go.

In addition to letting go, autumn is a time for taking in the pure too; pure, clean, crisp autumn air. And the lung is the organ that enables us to do that. In fact, in classical Chinese medicine, the lung is described as “the receiver of the pure Chi from the Heavens.” It’s also considered to be the ‘tender organ’ as it’s the organ that’s uppermost in the body and is susceptible to the cold.

In some oriental texts it’s believed that your lungs control the circulation of the Wei-Qi, your defensive Qi that protects you from respiratory infections such as colds and flu. This defensive Qi circulates and warms your body, but when it’s weak you’re not warmed through properly and it’s thought this is why you feel cold when you’re unwell. It may follow therefore that if you suffer a weakness in your lungs it will lead to a weakness in your Wei-Qi and therefore make you more prone to respiratory infections.

Moving from summer into autumn is when our Qi becomes unstable, so now is the time to give your body as much support as possible for what winter may bring. A good place to start is to support your respiratory system with POWERbreathe, as it exercises your breathing muscles making them stronger. This’ll help you exhale the ‘dirty’ Qi (carbon dioxide) and inhale the ‘heavenly, good’ Qi (air).

Just a few minutes a day of POWERbreathe breathing training (30 breaths twice a day) will help you to breathe more efficiently as it exercises your main breathing muscle, your diaphragm. It helps you bring awareness into your breath and build strength and power into your breathing.

As well as nourishing your lungs through breathing, you can nourish your lungs by choosing the right foods. We’ve written about this previously in Foods for keeping your lungs healthy and Foods and Spices for Respiratory Infections. But there are a few simple rules to remember:

  1. Although dairy products are considered strengthening for the lung, it can cause congestion and build up phlegm.
  2. Pungent flavoured foods and spices can help to ‘open’ the lungs and stimulate lung function.
  3. Lungs need protein, and a craving for protein could indicate lung qi deficiency. The best protein you could choose would be low fat protein, so look at including white meat or tofu, and beans.

If you have a respiratory condition, such as asthma or COPD, then you could benefit from using POWERbreathe Level 1 (LR). It features an adjustable, light resistance for you to breathe against, and as your breathing strength improves, you simply turn up the resistance. Choose from the following models:

Everyone can benefit from stronger breathing muscles, not just people with breathing problems, and there is a POWERbreathe to suit everyone. We’ve listed the models above that would best suit people with breathing difficulties, and for those who don’t have a breathing problem you can choose from:

If you have anything that you would like to add to this blog from your own experience then please leave a comment here. Alternatively please feel free to share it on the POWERbreathe Forum, Facebook or Twitter as we’d love to hear from you.