EXERCISE AND YOUR LUNGS

      

 

The human body requires oxygen to function and the process begins with the lungs. Caring for your lungs should therefore be a priority if you desire a healthy life. The most beneficial thing to do is to avoid or quit smoking; and avoid polluted environments. But does exercise help to improve lung health and what are the effects of those with lung conditions doing exercise? Let’s explore basically.  

 

 

 


   

Our left lung is smaller than the right lung. This owes to the location of the heart in the chest cavity. It has only 2 lobes while the right has 3. When we breathe, air enters our nose and mouth and moves through the trachea and into the balloon-like alveoli. Here, oxygen and carbon dioxide and other gas exchange are carried out by blood vessels. Blood is pumped by the heart through the pulmonary vein where red blood cells absorb oxygen in the alveoli and returns to the heart to be circulated throughout the body. It would be logical to theorise that any operational mechanism should not be strained but kept optimally operational to extract maximal functionality.

During exercise, our bodies work harder and demand more oxygen. This increases our breathing and lung function. While resting, we generally breathe about 15 times a minute with an intake of about 12 litres of air. Owing to demand from our muscles when we exercise, our breathing would increase to 40-60 times a minute (100 litres of air). Even those with modest goals need to double their lung capacity when they exercise. Blood circulation also speeds up. However, regular exercise actually gradually reduces the demand for oxygen and produces less carbon dioxide. This is because your muscles are better conditioned. This in turn reduces the amount of air you will need to breathe for a given exercise.

 People with long term lung condition should seek physician / specialist’s professional advice before starting on any exercise program. Normally, those with lung conditions shun exercise owing to breathlessness. However, patients with conditions such as COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema are recommended to exercise. This may even be simple slow walks of 5 to 15 minutes three to four times daily. Reliable treadmills are great for this. For them, exercise help to strengthen the arm and leg muscles and improve muscle endurance. This does and can reduce breathlessness. Yoga and Tai Chi that emphasize on breathing techniques can also be particularly beneficial.

 All exercise programmes should be gradually built-up over time to allow for adaptation by the body. Intermittent exercise also known as interval training can help to reduce breathlessness for starters. Those with asthma should consider indoor exercise to avoid inhaling outdoor pollutants when they exercise. Well-calibrated exercise bicycles and crosstrainers are ideal indoor equipment.

What may come as a surprise for many is a condition called Exercise Induced Asthma or EIA. This is different from allergic asthma. It often occurs during intense exercise in cold dry air. Proper warm-up and cool-down help significantly in reducing EIA and it might also be better to involve short burst of exercise instead of long-duration pacing exercises.

 Swimming is excellent for those with asthma. Air close to the surface is moist and it might come as a surprise to learn that many performance swimmers were suffering from asthma as kids. Take note that some of the most comprehensive and reliable range of swimming products in Malaysia can be found in Sun Paradise boutique chain. You should be able to satisfy your swimming needs so visit it should you be “in the market” for swimming products.