18 May Why Expanding Your Lung Capacity Could Help You Combat Covid-19
When we think of a workout, we mostly tend to think about our bodies – building strength and endurance, becoming fitter and more flexible. But, our lungs can also benefit from working out and, right now, building your lung capacity could help you to become more resistant to Covid-19 or to fight the virus if you have it.
Covid-19 causes breathing problems and you are most at risk if you have pre-existing respiratory conditions like COPD or asthma, or if you are a smoker. Building your lung capacity helps your body to take in more oxygen, which is vital for the functioning of all of your major organs.
Exercising regularly helps to improve your lung as well as heart health and improve the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your body. Building up slowly and gradually will increase your lung function so you can take in more air over time. Here are six great things you can do even while still in lockdown to build up your lung strength:
1. Deep breathing – breathing slowly and deeply into the bottom of your lungs allows them to expand so you can take in more air. Typically we only use a fraction of our lung’s capacity so by breathing more deeply we are expelling air from the most stagnant areas of the lung, which may reduce exposure to the virus. Breathe in through your nose for a count of six and out through your mouth for a count of 12. Repeat this for up to 10 minutes at a time several times throughout the day. Breathing through the nose helps to clean the incoming air via the cilla, which are the tiny hairs inside your nose, and mucous membranes. It also helps to warm the air.
2. Singing – when you sing or hum you are using your lungs to produce the airflow you need to make the sound. The more you sing the more you strengthen these muscles and develop an ability to breathe slowly and deeply. This helps you to increase your lung capacity.
3. Fresh air – previous generations understood the health benefits of fresh air but we have tended to become more cocooned inside our double-glazed, temperature-controlled homes and offices. Opening windows and doors allows any viral particles that are in the air to leave the room before you or anyone else can breathe them in. It also brings higher levels of oxygen into the room.
4. Get outside – it’s a good idea to get outside as much as you can within the current restrictions (but remember to observe social distancing rules). Moderate daily exercise can help you to improve the ventilation of your lungs, as well as boosting immune function.
5. Interval training – this is where you intersperse exercises that make you feel out of breath with slower, gentler exercise to give your lungs a workout. You don’t need to be in a gym to do this. You could walk quickly up and down the stairs but then slow your pace. Or you could jog on the spot before slowing down to do some stretches.
6. Take vitamin D – the so-called sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is believed to protect against respiratory infections by boosting microbial peptides (the body’s own naturally-occurring antibiotics) inside the lungs. As well as getting out into the sunshine, you may want to take a vitamin D supplement to boost your body’s immunity.
Throughout these challenging times, it is important to stay well, stay vigilant and follow the Government guidelines. This is particularly important if you are in a high risk group, such as someone who has asthma, lung cancer or COPD.