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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 March 25, 2020

          How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

          How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

          When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

          So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

          1. Exercise

          It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

          2. Drink in Moderation

          I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

          3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

          Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

          4. Watch Less Television

          A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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          Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

          5. Eat Less Red Meat

          Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

          If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

          6. Don’t Smoke

          This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

          7. Socialize

          Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

          8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

          Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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          9. Be Optimistic

          Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

          10. Own a Pet

          Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

          11. Drink Coffee

          Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

          12. Eat Less

          Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

          13. Meditate

          Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

          Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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          How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

          14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

          Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

          15. Laugh Often

          Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

          16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

          Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

          17. Cook Your Own Food

          When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

          Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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          18. Eat Mushrooms

          Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

          19. Floss

          Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

          20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

          Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

          Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

          21. Have Sex

          Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

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          Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

          Reference

          [1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
          [2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
          [3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
          [4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
          [5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
          [6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
          [7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
          [8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
          [9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
          [10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
          [11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
          [12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
          [13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
          [14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
          [15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
          [16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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