You probably know that your lungs enable you to breathe, bringing oxygen into your body and removing carbon dioxide. However, you might be less familiar with common habits and toxins that make it more difficult for them to do their job.
That includes irritants like smoke and viruses that cause respiratory conditions. Healthy lungs use mucus as a protective barrier, but when lungs are damaged, they can become clogged by thick and excessive mucus that’s difficult to remove.
Learn how to reduce inflammation and increase your lung capacity. Take a look at these practical suggestions for keeping your respiratory system in top shape.
Healthy Lung Habits for Your Body:
- Quit smoking. Using tobacco narrows air passages and causes cancer. Keep trying until you quit for good. Nicotine replacement may help.
- Work out. Physical exercise conditions your lungs in addition to many other benefits. Your body develops the ability to use oxygen more efficiently.
- Train your breath. Maximize your inhalations and exhalations. Yoga videos and books can teach you how to replace shallow chest breathing with more effective techniques reaching down into your diaphragm.
- Wash your hands. Reduce the risk of infections by scrubbing your hands frequently. Use soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds.
- Brush your teeth. Oral hygiene counts too. Floss and brush your teeth at least twice a day to remove germs before they have a chance to travel to your lungs.
- Drink water. The conventional wisdom about drinking fluids for a cold is correct. Water and tea will help to thin your mucus while you’re ill and after you’ve recovered.
- Eat well. While there are no magic foods, there is some evidence to support the idea of an anti-inflammatory diet. Enjoy smart choices like leafy greens, beans, ginger, and garlic.
- Inhale steam. Warm moist air can loosen mucus in your upper airways. Cover your head with a towel and lean over a bowl of boiling water for quick relief when you feel congested.
- Try percussion. Tapping on the chest or back may also clear away mucus. A physical therapist can do it for you or give you instructions on how to try it at home.
- See your doctor. Many respiratory conditions have no obvious symptoms in the early stages so regular checkups are essential. Your doctor can also advise you on how to exercise safely if you’ve already been diagnosed.
Healthy Lung Habits for Your Surroundings:
- Test for radon. This invisible and odorless gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer. You can test for it in your home with a simple kit from your local hardware store.
- Clean house. Other common sources of indoor air pollution include dust, mold, and water damage. Proper cleaning and ventilation help, so pay close attention to your carpets, appliances, and heating and air conditioning systems.
- Monitor air quality. When you’re checking the daily weather forecast, note the Air Quality Index number. A reading over 100 can be unhealthy for sensitive groups, and readings over 150 can pose risks for anyone. Limit your time outdoors on those days.
- Avoid crowds. Large gatherings can spread infections, especially when guests are packed close together in a confined area. Pay attention to health advisories if you’re planning a wedding or have tickets to a music festival.
- Take sick days. Stay home when you have a fever or other flu symptoms. You’ll recover faster with adequate rest, and you’ll be less likely to infect others.
There are many things you can do to protect your lungs. That includes quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and following your doctor’s recommendations. Taking care of your respiratory system will increase your chances for leading a longer and more active life.