When you’re thinking about your health, do you remember to think about your lungs? It’s easy to forget that you need to keep your lungs strong and healthy; you can’t see them, and you literally breathe without thinking about it. However, healthy lungs are important for your overall health. Improving lung health promotes proper lung function, helps you stay active, and improves your overall quality of life.Don't forget about lung health! There are several things that you can do to keep your lungs healthy and strong. Click To Tweet
Spend time outdoors
Make a point to get outside each day and breathe in fresh air. Outdoor air quality is typically better than indoor air quality. Spending more time outdoors reduces your exposure to indoor air pollutants. Just remember to practice sun safety and protect your skin from UV radiation.
Improve indoor air quality
While you can spend more time outdoors, you still have to spend time in your home. Keep a clean home and wash linens, vacuum, dust, and replace air filters in your home regularly. The EPA recommends that you replace indoor air filters every 60 to 90 days. You may have to do these things more often if you have indoor pets.
Drink more water
Staying properly hydrated is important for your overall health, and it also helps promote proper lung function. Drinking water helps thin the mucus produced by the lungs, which makes it easier to breathe; this is especially true for people with lung diseases, such as COPD.
Smoking is the leading cause of COPD, lung cancer, and preventable death. Not smoking — or quitting smoking — keeps your lungs healthy and significantly decreases your risk for chronic lung diseases.
It’s never too late to stop smoking. Giving up tobacco at any age provides health benefits and improves your quality of life.
There is no safe way to use tobacco; this includes e-cigs and vapes. While e-cigarettes are often viewed as a safer alternative to smoking, there is growing research associating vaping with lung injury and lung disease.
Tobacco in any form is addictive and it increases your risk for various health problems including heart disease.
Encourage those around you not to smoke
When you decide to smoke or vape, those around you no longer have a choice. Secondhand smoke is just is deadly as smoking; it increases a person’s risk for chronic health problems, including COPD and lung cancer.
Exercise and stay active
You know you need to exercise your muscles to keep them healthy and strong. Your lungs need stimulation too! Regular daily activities won’t get your lungs working as hard as they should. Choose physical activity and exercise that gets your heart rate up and makes you breathe deeper.
Physical exercise strengthens your lungs, increases lung capacity, and helps clean your lungs.
Try breathing exercises
Like physical activity, breathing exercises can strengthen your lungs, improve lung function, increase lung capacity, and help clean your lungs. Unlike physical exercise, you can perform breathing exercises at your work desk or during your commute.
Try these pursed lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing exercises from the American Lung Association.
Avoid respiratory illness
A cold or respiratory illness affects lung health immediately, but it can also lead to serious complications.
- Get in the habit of washing your hands with soap and water.
- Don’t touch your face, especially with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with others when transmission is common in your community.
- Stay home if you are sick, to protect others.
- Get vaccines for respiratory illnesses such as the flu virus.
Ask your doctor about healthy lungs
Bring up lung health during your next annual wellness exam. Mention any breathing breathing problems, and let your doctor know if you currently smoke or vape or if you used to smoke.
Your primary care physician will help you work towards your goal of having healthy lungs; this may include a referral to a lung specialist, or pulmonologist.