Among the vital organs in the respiratory system, the most prominent are the lungs. It is here that the life-sustaining oxygen from the inhaled breath gets into the blood. And the waste co2 from the blood is thrown out of the body through the lungs. For a healthy and productive life, the lungs should be performing well and free of any sickness.
How to judge the health of your lungs?
Medically there are many processes to test the excellent functioning of lungs, that require specialized equipment and skills. Though it is no alternative to a medical test, however, it is a simple way to check your lungs at home;
- The pulse oximeter is an elementary device to check oxygen content in the blood. (available at all medical stores or get it online). It clips on to your fingertips and reads the oxygen saturation level of the blood. Ideally, it should read between 95-100%. But a value of less than 90% indicates a weak heart.
- Another simple way is to inhale a deep breath and try to hold the breath for as long as you can. If you can hold it for a count of at least 12 -15 seconds (without getting sick), the lungs are okay.
(The above methods are in no way an alternative or better than the medical test. Please check-up with your doctor in case of any complications)
The lungs have two significant functions to perform. First, it must inhale an adequate volume of breath. And secondly, it should be able to manage the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.
Some Simple and practical exercises to improve the health of the lungs.
Fresh (unpolluted) air and staying away from vices like smoking lays the ground for a healthy lung.
Without realizing most of the time, we take a very short breath which carries an insufficient amount of air and hence oxygen to the lungs.
Sit relaxed on the bed or a sofa comfortably with your feet touching the ground. Keep your palm down by your sides on the bed. Gradually raise your hands, sideways straight about your head. As you extend your hands, inhale slowly but continuously till your palms touch each other above your head.
Now gradually bring your hands down from the side, and exhale simultaneously. Exhale till your hands again rest on the bed by your side. Repeat this for 7 – 10 times.
The biggest issue with breathing is the way we breathe. We tend to take a shallow breath and heave our chest up and down while breathing, which is not correct. The right way to breathe is to take a deep breath and consciously expand your stomach/abdomen while inhaling.
It enables the diaphragm situated between the chest cavity and stomach to suck a fair amount of air. As you exhale, contract your abdomen to push out as much air as possible from your nose. Try to maintain the exhalation time at least twice of inhalation time. Count your inhalation/exhalation time, and the exhale count should be double of inhalation count.
Repeatedly inhale and exhale deeply for 8 – 10 times, then cough forcefully a few times and repeat deep breathing. It makes up one set. Repeat for two more sets. And throughout the day, remind yourself to breathe deep and slow.
Having learnt deep diaphragmatic breathing, you can now add a variation to increase its effectiveness. Sit relaxed, take a few normal breaths. Then take a deep breath engaging your abdomen, hold the breath inside for a count of 10 -15 and then exhale it slowly using twice the time of inhalation. Repeat the whole process about five times.
This is another good exercise which is essentially a cardio workout but modified to help the lungs too.
After proper warm-up exercises, walk casually for 3-4 minutes, then increase your pace to the maximum, breathing strong and continuous. After about one minute of fast walking slow down your pace and walk for 2-3 minutes.
Then again pick up your pace to walk fast. Repeat fast and slow walking alternatively for about 30 minutes. Try walking in pollution and dust-free environment.
Modified Pursed breathing
This is for persons who do not have any lung sickness.
Jog at a fast pace at one spot for 20-30 seconds. Then inhale deeply through your nose, stretching your diaphragm(abdomen). Exhale slowly through your lips which are pursed (like kissing). Repeat the whole process thrice. Then sit down and breath generally for 5 – 10 minutes.
This is a fun exercise to do. Get about 20 medium-sized balloons. Sit down comfortably and start blowing each balloon one by one.
Once you blow a balloon, tie a rubber band to secure it. Doing this will give you the time to get back to your normal breath. Blow all the balloons (or as much as you can) and then deflate them (to use it the next day).
Light a candle and keep it about six inches away from you—blowhard to extinguish the candle. If you are successful in doing that, increase the distance of the candle by 2 inches.
Care and Precautions:
- In case you have any complications of breathing or lungs, please consult your doctor before doing any exercise.
- Always do the exercise with your windows open. Fresh air is good.
- In case you feel uncomfortable or giddy doing any exercise, stop immediately, and do not force yourself.
- The best time to do these exercises are either early morning or evening.
- Wear comfortable, loose cotton clothes while exercising.
If you are not able to blow off the candle at six inches, inhale very deeply and blow out with force. Keep trying till you finally blow off the candle.
Then try again at an increased distance (an increase of 2 inches). Do this exercise for about 10 – 15 minutes.
Written by Jayesh Tiwari.
Jayesh Tiwari is a Professional Content creator / Academician / Engineer / Google certified.