Strength Training for Your Lungs

Strength Training for Your Lungs

At this time of year, many of us have a drive to exercise and get fit. We tend to think of exercise as a way of tightening up our muscles and maybe losing a few pounds. But exercising supports our lungs and so can have even more profound and far-reaching consequences. In some cases, it could help to save your life.

Recent research

A study by the University of Colorado Boulder last year found that just five minutes of Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training a day can produce far-reaching improvements for fitness, cardiovascular health and cognitive function. The IMST workout uses a handheld device called an inspiratory muscle trainer which offers resistance to the breath and promotes vigorous breathing which strengthens the respiratory muscles.

In a six week trail into the effects of IMST on obstructive sleep apnoea, researchers found that as few as 30 inhalations a day resulted in stronger inspiratory muscles, lower systolic blood pressure and more restful sleep.

The results prompted researchers to undertake a further study into the potential benefits of IMST on physical, cognitive and cardiovascular health in people over the age of 50. It found that participants using the IMST device had significant improvements in blood pressure levels and large artery function compared to the control group. They also performed better in cognitive and treadmill tests and were able to run for longer and maintain a lower heart rate and oxygen consumption.

Benefits of lung strengthening

Researchers concluded that improving the function of the respiratory muscles means you don’t need as much blood to work the lungs so it can be redistributed to the legs, enabling them to exercise for longer. This is not the only benefit, however.

Strong lungs enable you to breathe better, develop greater disease resistance and even sleep better.

How to strengthen your lungs

If you don’t have access to an IMST device, becoming more physically active can help to strengthen your lungs. Exercising makes your heart and lungs work harder, helping to improve their condition and strength. It also provides a boost of oxygen to your muscles.

When you exercise regularly, as well as improving your physical fitness, your body becomes more efficient at transporting oxygen around your system and getting it to your muscles. You may notice that you become less breathless when you exercise as oxygen gets into your bloodstream quicker.

Experts advise that adults should have 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week. This doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym but may involve walking or gardening. It is important to choose a type of exercise that you enjoy as you are more likely to stick with it.

Particular types of exercise that strengthen your lungs include aerobic activities like brisk walking or running, which provide a workout for your respiratory system and improve its performance. As well as improving core strength, exercises like Pilates and weight-lifting help to tone up your lungs.

Specialist respiratory advice

A respiratory consultant may also be able to recommend specific breathing exercises designed to strengthen your diaphragm and help you to learn how to breath more efficiently. If you have lung disease it is particularly important to stick to a professionally-developed fitness plan.

Liberate Healthcare offers fitness and lifestyle advice as part of your treatment plan. Contact us for more information.