You use your lungs all day, every day, but you might not think about all the work you put them through until you breathe in some pesky pollen or catch a cold. A bad cough will make you thankful for all the time you spend breathing without any trouble.
Your lungs are faithful workhorses, but you shouldn’t leave their health up to chance. There are things you can do to help keep your lungs healthy and strong over the years, from giving them regular workouts to avoiding contaminants.
Here are a few things you can do to help your lungs do their job:
You should know already that smoking is bad for your lungs, but it bears repeating. If you smoke, stop now. Smoking causes lung cancer and can lead to chronic conditions that diminish your lungs’ ability to function correctly. Cut cigarettes out of your life to improve your lung health and that of the people around you by getting rid of the secondhand smoke they’re inhaling.
“Along with lung cancer, smoking can cause several other serious lung problems,” says Jeremy Young, respiratory therapist at English Oaks Convalescent and Rehabilitation. “If you smoke, quitting as soon as possible is the best way to strengthen your lungs and protect them from further damage.”
Check your home for radon
Even if you aren’t a smoker, you could be at risk of lung cancer from an invisible gas. Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the ground and can enter homes through cracks, joints, and other openings. It is the leading cause of lung cancer for nonsmokers, so keeping it out of your home can help lower your risk. Test your home for radon and install mitigation systems to get rid of the gas if necessary.
Pollution is more than a gross-looking haze in the sky. It can also damage lungs, especially in children and older people. Reduce your exposure to pollution by staying indoors when possible and installing a good filtration system in your home. During bad air times, limit activity outdoors, especially any strenuous activities like sports and exercise. Cut down the amount of pollution you add to the air by driving less and avoiding wood-burning fires.
While you shouldn’t exercise outdoors when air pollution levels are high, don’t skip out on exercise entirely. Working out is a good way to help your lungs get stronger. Exercise makes your whole body work harder, including your lungs. It helps your lungs become more efficient, so they work better over time.
Work your lungs out
When you’re not hitting the gym for a strenuous workout, you can use some more relaxing exercises on your lungs. Breathing exercises help your lungs get rid of old, stale air and bring in fresh oxygen. With some practice, your lungs can become more efficient at moving air in and out of your body.
Don’t take your lungs for granted just because you can usually depend on them day in and day out. Give them a little TLC today to keep your lungs healthy and strong throughout your life.
A version of this article was published by The Daily Herald. It has been republished here with permission.