Exercise without moving from the comfort of your lazy-boy recliner and improve your health. That’s the type of headline that makes you pick up the magazine at the grocery store checkout. You know it’s probably too good to be true, but you are still curious. Read on, I will show you this is indeed true. With the entire world struggling through a respiratory pandemic like most of us have never seen before, do you question the health of your lungs? You should. Ask yourself what, if anything, can I do to improve the health of my lungs? If the risk of developing lung cancer or other lung diseases due to smoking has not convinced you to become a non-smoker please consider it now. Quitting a smoking habit is the very best thing you can do for your over all health, during a respiratory disease pandemic or not. Until there is a vaccine available to us to lessen the chance of contracting the fast spreading Covid 19 disease we will all continue to be at risk. Having the healthiest lungs possible will not lessen your risk of contracting the disease but it will go a long way to helping you survive the ordeal if you do contract it.
“Use it or lose it” is a good mantra for this. Use your lungs, fully, as often as possible. While you are in that lazy-boy chair watching Netflix or scrolling through Facebook on your phone, bring some attention to your breathing and deepen it. Yep, that’s helpful. Breath in as deeply as possible for as long as possible. Feel the lungs expand into the rib-cage and into the chest muscles. Hold your breath for 4 or 5 seconds then breath out slowly, emptying your lungs as much as possible. Do this consciously several times before returning to a more normal breath rate. Another method of breathing that is beneficial is to be aware of breathing into the muscles of your back. Breathe deeply so as to make contact with the back of the chair. This uses more of the lungs and can help reduce the risk of pneumonia. Practising these breathing techniques while sitting in a chair or lying in bed can benefit the lungs.
Because yoga focuses on the use of breathe combined with movement it is beneficial as well. If you only do the first few moves in the “Sun Salutation” you will benefit your lungs. Stand tall, abs, glutes, quads lightly engaged, shoulders down and “heart open” which means shoulder blades lightly pulled together with the palms of the hands facing forward. Take a deep breath in as you reach both arms straight up overhead. Deeply exhale, slowly, as you bring your arms down and fold forward from the hips to come down towards the feet. Keep the knees slightly bent and the weight into the heels to protect your back. Use a deep inhale to slowly return to standing.
Paying attention to good posture, especially if you do a lot of sitting, will also benefit the lungs. Rounded posture with the chest collapsed inward creates a shallow breathing space. This restricts the amount of oxygen you bring in and can make you feel fatigued. It also causes neck, shoulder and back pain. Be aware of posture while sitting but also take frequent breaks to stand, lace your fingers together behind your back, breath in deeply, open the chest and pull the arms back and away from the body without leaning forward.
Running is a good lung exercise as it forces you to breath more heavily. If you prefer walking to running, do so at a pace that makes you breath deeply. Don’t stroll. Pick up the pace, even if it’s for a short time. An excellent way to do this is to work hard for a minute then decrease the intensity for about 30 seconds. Repeat this eight times if possible then take a longer break and repeat the intervals eight more times. Do this for the duration of your walk. If the impact of walking or running is hard on the joints, get on a bike. Pedal at a speed or resistance that causes the rate of breathing to increase. All of these cardiovascular type activities will give you a very lung, as well as heart healthy workout. You’ll reduce your risk of developing diabetes as an added bonus. Just for the health of it, think about your lungs.