The lungs are among the most used and abused parts of our body. Though they rest inside the rib cage, they’re the only internal organ that’s exposed to the external environment—which, sadly, is often polluted.
Strong and healthy lungs are essential to the proper functioning of virtually every part of the body—as each cell relies on oxygen to survive. Working in concert with the heart, the lungs supply much-needed oxygen to each and every organ. Having fit lungs translates to having an adequately-fueled body, particularly for activities that require endurance.
An efficiently functioning pair of lungs also helps enhance concentration as it supplies the brain with an adequate amount of oxygen to perform at its best. “[Be]cause you’re getting a lot of oxygen in your brain … you get more alert,” says athletic conditioning coach Asha Macam, ATC, NASM-CPT. Sometimes it has the same energizing effect like coffee, she adds.
Moreover, exercising your lungs promotes good posture as lung-boosting activities always involve deep breathing exercises. Aside from enhancing the lungs’ capacity, this type of breathing activates the core muscles which, according to style-pilates.com has the primary function of keeping your body upright and stabilizing it as your weight shifts, just like when you are walking or running. “When you inhale, your spine naturally lengthens, that’s a natural occurrence. When you exhale, it naturally curves,” says Macam. “As the core muscles are engaged, it helps to maintain the neutral alignment of the spine.”
Strengthen your lungs
So how do we keep our lungs in tip-top shape? Defined as physical activities that involve the large muscle groups for long duration, aerobic exercises (e.g., running, cycling, and circuit training) are ideal to boost the lungs’ capacity. But, for the sedentary ones, Macam refers the recommendation of the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine: Do 30 minutes of walking or light jogging a day. You may even break it down to 15 minutes in the morning, then 15 minutes again in the evening, says Macam. Do this “at least five times a week. If you can do it everyday, that’s perfect. But if you can’t, at least four to five days a week of that [and] you’re good.”