As an ex-smoker, I can tell you none of us realizes the importance of breath until we're short of it. We can go 3 weeks without food, 3 days without water, but only about 4 minutes without air. It's pretty clear we need to do all we can to develop healthy lungs, avoid lung damage, exercise, diet, and commit to therapy to regain healthy lungs, once they've been damaged. The following paragraphs can help you do all of it.
Obviously, avoiding damage is on the short list of how to develop healthy lungs. Unfortunately, if you're like me, when you're young, you don't think much about that stuff. I smoked for almost 20 years, but that isn't the only thing that damages your lungs. Smoking pot, huffing and snorting drugs can do as much damage. Don't ask me how I know.
Some careers, like welding, steel work, painting, coal work, hair dressing, plating, etc. can damage your lungs. Take the precautions seriously. If a job you're doing calls for a mask or breathing apparatus, use the best one you can get for the job. Even exercise isn't enough to recover from some lung damage.
It may seem obvious, but aerobic (with air) exercises are the best to develop healthy lungs. These types of exercise get your heart rate and breathing up to a high level and maintain that level for at least 20 minutes, 3-5 times a week. The exercise has to slowly increase in intensity as your fitness improves and it no longer taxes your breathing enough. Jogging, walking, swimming, fast dancing, rowing, stationary bikes and elliptical trainers are probably the best for aerobic exercise.
Many don't exercise their lungs because of their weight. Most of us don't realize the wear and tear we put on our lungs by being overweight. I had a friend who sounded like he had just run a race, while he was just sitting in a chair. He was about 200 pounds overweight. Even 20 pounds can make a huge difference on your lungs. If you don't know what your healthy weight should be, or how to get to it, here's a page with weight loss tips to help you.
This year, it will be 19 years since I smoked. Fortunately, I only have asthma interfering with my breathing. Both my mother and my sister died while on oxygen due to emphysema (from smoking). If you have a breathing condition due to lung damage, you may think that's a reason to take it easy, not exercise, maybe allow a few extra pounds...because you're sick, right? My experience with asthma has taught me I must get regular aerobic exercise and keep my weight down to keep breathing. If I stop exercising for as little as 3 days, I can feel it in my breathing. By a week, I'm taking my inhaler 2-3 times a day. If I gain as little as 10 pounds, I have great difficulty doing my exercise and other daily activities.
Don't take my word for it, listen to my mother and sister. My mother went on oxygen at age 65 and got serious about her health. She quit smoking, lost weight and walked for exercise every day. She walked a couple miles a day in the neighborhood, rolling her oxygen tank behind her. She walked in the shopping mall during the Winter and Summer, long enough to be awarded a 1,000 mile t-shirt at around age 70. She lived 15 years after starting her oxygen, learned oil painting and won awards, and did thousands of hours of volunteer community service. My sister went on oxygen at age 62, refused to exercise and gained about 30 pounds. She lived only 3 years longer. What can you do with 12 years? Don't let a little lung damage keep you down.
As my Mom and sister can tell you, developing healthy lungs and regaining as much lung capacity as possible after damage, require discipline and hard work, but they can reap great benefits. If weight control and exercise added 12 years to my Mom's life after she got a fatal lung condition, how much can they benefit you? The earlier you start developing healthy lungs, the longer you'll enjoy the life you have. Don't wait until you're short of breath, like we did.
If you're looking to improve your health and fitness, you probably want a healthy life...including mind, body and spirit. You can renew your mind and spirit with God's help. He can heal the stuff your diet doesn't control. If you want His help, go to Healing From God.
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