12 Easy Ways to Boost Your Respiratory Health
The need to breathe is arguably our most basic need. After all, we can go weeks without food. But most of us can’t go past 5 to 10 minutes without breathing.
This complex breathing system works hard to keep us going every day.
- Muscles used for breathing
- Nerves and Brain
All day this system keeps you breathing. It keeps you alive. Yet many of us struggle with our respiratory systems. We get asthma, bronchitis, obstructive lung disease, respiratory infections, colds, pulmonary fibrosis, pneumonia, allergies, lung cancer, and more.
How do we ensure that conditions like these don’t harm our breathing – the life source for our bodies?
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There’s lots of things you can do to support your respiratory system. Many of them aren’t even that difficult to do! I’ve gathered 12 of the top ways to boost your respiratory health.
1. Stop Smoking
Let’s start with the most obvious first: if you’re smoking, it’s time to stop. Smoking leads to lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and chronic lung disease. It inflames your respiratory system and spurs on oxidative damage.
About 90% of lung cancer deaths were related to smoking.
Struggling to stop? Keep trying new methods or visit your doctor for a new solution. Also check out the Freedom from Smoking plan through the American Lung Association.
Remember that secondhand smoking is a real problem too. If you don’t smoke, but live with a smoker, you will be at risk. Stay away from their smoke as much as possible and encourage them to quit.
2. Eat Better Foods
Certain foods fill up your body with micronutrients that impact your lungs in significant ways. You are going to want to focus on getting plenty of foods for lung health including:
- Apples: Proven to improve lung health and asthma
- Orange produce (like carrots and cantaloupe): Filled with the antioxidant beta carotene
- Cruciferous veggies: Shown to reduce lung cancer odds
- Fatty fish: Packed with the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids
Any sort of fresh produce will offer your respiratory health a wide variety of benefits, so focus on getting lots of plants into each day!
3. Do Aerobic Exercise
Cardio exercises will actually boost your overall lung capacity and strengthen your lung function. It has also been proven to calm stress and anxiety – which are some of the biggest triggers for asthma.
Great choices include:
- Vinyasa/power yoga
- Winter sports like skiing or snowboarding
- Team sports like basketball
- Cardio videos
Shoot for at least 30 minutes each day.
4.Keep a Healthy Weight
When you’re overweight, you are forcing your lungs to work much harder. Then the extra weight itself can compress your respiratory system.
Luckily steps #2 and #3 will help you make this next step possible! Just be sure to add in some weight training to your cardio exercise. Also, focus on cutting out some damaging foods like the processed and high-sugar foods.
5. Drink Water
Most of us realize that proper hydration is essential for a healthy body (and healthy weight!), but did you know that water will improve your lungs? It thins out the mucus in your airways which improves respiration and helps you prevent respiratory infections
If you don’t love drinking water, try making your own fruit-infused concoctions. I love tossing in pieces of citrus or berries.
There are so many all-natural ingredients that have been proven to improve the function of your respiratory system. Some of the top choices include:
- Vitamin D: Lowers inflammation/improves lung health
- Quercetin: A natural antihistamine
- Boswellia: Great for allergies and lowering inflammation
- Bromelain: A natural anti-inflammatory
- Nettle: An anti-inflammatory that helps airways
- Coleus Forskohlii: Aids asthma and allergy sufferers
- N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine: Improves bronchial conditions like COPD and bronchitis
- Butterbur: Improves asthma and allergies
7. Learn How to Breathe
We may think that knowing how to breathe is one of the most natural and basic skills there is as a human being. To a certain extent, that’s true.
But many of us pick up the habit of shallow breathing that comes from our chests. This can ultimately make life a bit harder on your lungs and encourage you into a state of stress or frenzy. Learning how to take bigger, deeper breaths from the belly can increase your lung capacity and your Zen.
You may be able to find breathing classes if you live in a bigger city – they’re starting to get more and more popular. If not, a yoga class is a great place to start. The focus on deep breathing can be transformative.
8. Limit Exposure to Irritants and Pollution
What you breathe into your lungs can be really detrimental.
- Pay attention to the air quality – when it’s bad, stay inside.
- If you work in a place where you have to breathe in chemicals all day, it may be time to discuss prevention measures or look for a new job.
- Toss out any household cleaners with strong chemicals that could be toxic and lead to asthma. Air fresheners and heavily scented products are often the worst offenders.
- Have your home inspected if you suspect mold.
9. Go Outside
When the pollen count is lower, get yourself outside for some natural vitamin D production. Vitamin D is essential for lowering inflammation in the body and studies have even shown that those with more vitamin D have lungs that function better.
Taking a vitamin D supplement can be helpful (make sure you go for D3, not D2), but nothing can quite compare to the vitamin D you create with a little sun exposure.
10. Visit the Chiropractor
A chiropractor’s focus on full body alignment can really improve the flow of your airways. Many people believe it’s a great helper for both allergies and asthma. Some even use this alternative treatment for lung disease.
11. Visit Your Doctor
We tend to think the only time we should visit the doctor is when we’re sick. But the best time to visit your doctor is when you’re feeling healthy. Well checks are a must for all areas of your body, and the respiratory system is no different.
Plus, lung disease might show up without any clear symptoms at first. Regular visits to your doctor could save your life.
12. Work on Your Posture
When you have poor posture, you’re not opening up your airways enough for deep breathing. You want your lungs to be expanded as you go through your day. Be intentional about sitting tall during your workday instead of hunching over a desk. Consider buying a standing desk as well.
If you know you have been hunched over for a while, do some chest-opening stretches. One of my favorites is to put two pillows on the floor vertically, one on top of the other. Lie down on them so your back is propped up, but your shoulders splay open. Your chest will be wide.
Better Respiratory Health Is Up To You
What these 12 ways to boost respiratory health should prove is that the ability to have healthy lungs and airways is in your hands. There are actionable steps you can take to greatly improve the way you breathe and therefore, the longevity of your life.
So start today. Get outside and go for a jog. Order your respiratory supplements. Toss out your household chemicals. Your lungs will thank you.