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Want To Be Healthier And Live Longer? Increase Your Lung Capacity With These 5 Exercises

Want To Be Healthier And Live Longer? Increase Your Lung Capacity With These 5 Exercises

Most of us believe that our heart health determines our overall well being and longevity, yet, studies have shown that our lungs play a much more significant role in keeping us alive and healthy. Scientists are showing how our lung’s capacity to take in and process enough oxygen is directly related to how our organs will perform and how long we will live. This study from the Mayo Clinic shows that “pulmonary function impairment is a significant risk factor for short- and long-term morbidity and mortality, despite adjustment for potential confounding factors such as age, gender, and smoking status.” This Framingham study also revealed that the determining factor in our longevity is our lung volume.

Decreased lung capacity risks

Our maximum lung capacity is about six liters, yet we can’t preserve this lung volume throughout our entire life. It decreases with age. By the time we are 25 years old, our lung capacity reaches maturity, and it starts declining as soon as we turn 35, making it more and more challenging to supply our organs with enough oxygen. As we get older, our nervous system lung tissue, muscles and bones experience changes which harm the air exchange process. Unfortunately, most people only use 10-20% of their breathing capacity even when their lung capacity is at its fullest. By not getting enough oxygen, our overall health suffers tremendously. Health risks related to decreased lung capacity include:

  • heart failure risk
  • less energy and more fatigue
  • reduced metabolic and digestive functions
  • higher risk of inflammation
  • decreased focus, concentration and memory
  • stamina and endurance decline during activity

Fortunately there are certain methods to increase our lung capacity and avoid health risks associated with low lung volume. Deep breathing exercises are safe, easy and effective ways to detoxify our bodies, relieve anxiety and stress, increase our lung capacity, and improve our overall health.

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Before you start keep in mind essential rules and precautions:

  • Always assume an upright position while performing breathing exercises.
  • Start with shorter periods of time, and slowly increase the time as you progress.
  • Take deep and slow breaths to ensure your lungs are emptied entirely.
  • Pay attention to your body and lung limits and make sure not to push yourself too hard.
  • Relax your muscles.
  • Acclimatize your body to the surroundings and temperature.

1. Pushing out

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    Super-Power Breathing authors, doctors Paul and Patricia Bragg, suggested this exercise for increasing lung capacity:

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    • Start standing up with knees loose
    • Bend over from waist as you push out all air from your lungs
    • Inhale as you slowly return to an upright position
    • Stop inhaling once you reach your fullest lung potential
    • Keep your breath for about 20 seconds with both arms extended fully overhead
    • Slowly exhale

    2. Rib stretch

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      As your ribs stretch during this exercise, your lungs can increase their volume and take in more oxygen.

      • Stand straight and exhale deeply
      • Inhale slowly until you reach your maximum lung capacity
      • Hold your breath for 20 seconds, resting your hands on your hips
      • Exhale slowly

      3. Abdominal breathing

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        via Return 2 Health

        This exercise relaxes and expands your abdomen, allowing your diaphragm to descend, leaving enough room for your lungs to fill with air.

        • Stand straight with one hand on your belly and the other one on your chest
        • Inhale fully through the nose making sure the hand on your belly is higher than the one on your chest
        • Hold your breath for 7 seconds
        • Exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds
        • Tighten your abdominal muscles in order to expel any air left

        4. Oriental breath

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          via wikiHow

          • Inhale and exhale standing in an upright position
          • Take 3 breaths in through your nose without exhaling
          • Inhale one more time, raising your arms in front of you to shoulder level
          • Inhale once again, opening your arms and raising them overhead
          • Exhale all the air as you bring your arms down next to your body

          5. Numbered breath

          Numbered breath exercise gradually increase your lung capacity over time.

          • Stand in an upright position and close your eyes
          • Take a deep breath
          • Expel all air from your lungs
          • Take another deep breath and think of the number 1
          • Hold your breath for a couple of seconds and exhale
          • Inhale and think of the number 2
          • Exhale in 3 seconds
          • Repeat until you reach number 8

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          Last Updated on December 2, 2018

          How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

          How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

          Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

          The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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          The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

          Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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          Review Your Past Flow

          Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

          Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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          Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

          Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

          Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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          Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

          Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

          We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

          Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

            Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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