We’re blissfully oblivious but every day we breathe in air pollution, passive smoke and other toxins that damage the lungs and can lead to severe health conditions. We often, unfortunately, take our lungs for granted but with the pandemic still looming over our heads, it’s become critically important to keep our lungs and immune system healthy to fight off infection or illness. We’re aware that the SARS-CoV-2 virus caused by COVID-19 obstructs the respiratory pathway with thick mucus. For the medicines to be effective, the pathway needs to be open and unblocked.
Apart from COVID-19, there are several other diseases that can affect our lungs like lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, and asthma. And when it comes to fighting off such catastrophes, the best offence to defend yourself is to maintain your lung health.
To help you stay in the best shape, we’ve put together 5 simple steps you can take to keep your lungs healthy.
5 Benefits Of Mindful Breathing To Keep Your Lungs Healthy
1. Don’t Smoke
You probably don’t need us to tell you that smoking increases your risk of lung cancer. But if that’s not enough, smoking is linked to COPD, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and asthma. Every time you smoke, you increase your chances of inhaling thousands of chemicals into your lungs, which include nicotine, carbon monoxide, and tar. These toxins are devastating for your lungs as they increase mucus, making it ever so hard for your lungs to clean themselves, something they do naturally.
In fact, smoking causes the lungs to age more rapidly and the chemicals can eventually turn cancerous. Quitting is the only answer and while it may seem different and may require several attempts, there’s a way out if you’re determined enough to keep trying. Try consulting your health professional on the measures you should take to curb the habit.
2. Exercise To Breathe Harder
Just like we exercise to strengthen our bodies, breathing exercises keep our lungs strong. Exercise causes the heart to beat faster and your lungs to work harder. Studies have shown that during exercise, your breathing rises from 15 times per minute to approximately 40-60 times a minute. Doing exercises that focus on breathwork can help your lungs become more efficient. Working on strengthening your lungs reduces your risks of ageing prematurely and developing diseases. And even if you do acquire a lung disease down the road, having stronger lungs through exercise can slow the progression and keep you active for longer.
4 effective breathing exercises that you can follow are:
- Deep Breathing
- Mindful Breathing
- Alternate Breathing
- 4-7-8 Breathing
3. Avoid Exposure To Indoor Plants That Damage The Lungs
Natural uranium in rock, soil, and water breaks down to create radon, a colourless, tasteless and odourless gas that causes lung cancer. Since you can’t see or smell it, it can build up in homes, buildings and schools to a dangerous level. Make your home and car as smoke-free as possible. If you want to nurture your green thumb, incorporate plants that improve air quality in your homes such as aloe vera, snake plants, bamboo palm, ferns, peace lilies, ficus and spider plants.
4. Minimize Exposure To Air Pollution
It’s inevitable that we step out of our homes at some point in the day. But the air quality, which differs from day to day, is on a downward spiral due to an increase in global warming and carbon emissions. This is making it harder and harder for us to breathe clean air. While the climate crisis is another debate, protecting yourself from the aftermath can positively impact lung health. Avoid second-hand smoke, not only from smoking but also from cars, bikes and other automobiles. Stay indoors during peak air pollution times, avoid exercising near heavy traffic and make sure that you’re masking up every time you step outdoors.
5. Prevent Infection
Infections are devastating for your lungs, especially as you grow older. They can turn serious very easily, even more so for those who suffer from lung diseases like COPD. Fortunately, there are several effective measures you can take to protect yourself:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If you can’t wash, opt for an alcohol-based cleaner to cleanse your hands before using them.
- Avoid stepping out in crowds during the cold and flu season. If you should, always keep your mask on.
- Brush your teeth twice a day and see the dentist for regular check-ups for good oral hygiene can protect you from the germs infesting your mouth.
- Get vaccinated against influenza. Consult with your doctor if you’re eligible for a pneumonia vaccine as well.
- If you do get sick, limit your exposure to others. While it may not be fatal for you, it could be for someone else. Isolate yourself, stay home from work or school until you’re better.
Lastly, we recommend getting regular health check-ups to understand your body better. Check-ups can help catch diseases early on, preventing them from spreading or getting worse. Especially if you’re suffering from a disease that can go unnoticed easily, something like lung disease.