We do not often think about the role our lungs play in our day-to-day activities because breathing is an automatic function. Often, it is only when we experience breathing problems that we begin to appreciate how hard our lungs work for us. It is vitally important for us to maintain healthily functioning lungs.

Here are some tips for healthy lungs

Avoid exposure to pollutants

Some research suggests that long-term exposure to air pollutants may contribute to the development of lung conditions.

Breathing in air pollutants can irritate your airways and may cause shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, asthma episodes and chest pain. Exposure to air pollution puts you at risk for lung cancer, heart attacks, stroke and in extreme cases, premature death.

Secondhand smoking is a form of pollution. Avoid second-hand smoke especially if someone is smoking indoors.

Avoid smoking or quit smoking

Smoking is closely linked to many lung diseases such as asthma, emphysema, COPD, and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar are the toxic chemicals which are inhaled through the combustion of tobacco when you smoke cigarettes. These chemicals are toxic to the lungs and may result in increased mucous production. This can irritate and cause inflammation in the tissues in your lungs which gradually causes the airways to narrow, making breathing difficult.

The chemicals in smoke can also change normal lung cells to cancerous cells which is why smoking can increase your risk of developing lung cancer.

Exercise regularly

Exercise increases your cardio-respiratory effort by making your heart beat faster and your lungs work harder. In response, your lungs step up their activity to deliver that oxygen while expelling additional carbon dioxide. Aerobic exercises are usually the best at increasing the work done by your lungs

Diaphragmatic breathing and maintaining good posture

Many people breathe shallowly and take shorter breaths, which can also be linked to being in a slouched posture when standing or sitting. When we breathe shallowly, we are not using our full lung volumes. Deep breathing helps clear the lungs of phlegm and allows for more efficient gaseous exchange and that allows for more oxygen to be delivered to our organs.

Diaphragmatic breathing uses the awareness of the diaphragm muscle, which separates the organs in the abdomen from the lungs. When you breathe diaphragmatically, you want to see your belly rise as you inhale and drop when you exhale. Deeper breaths come from the belly, which indicates that you are using your diaphragm to breathe.

Fortify your lungs to help prevent and fight infections

Often with seasonal changes, there is a higher prevalence of people getting viral infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis. These amongst other illnesses can be very dangerous, especially when people who are immunocompromised or the elderly get exposed.

The best way to avoid lung infections is to keep your hands clean. Wash regularly with warm water and soap, and avoid touching your face as much as possible.

Ensure that you stay well hydrated and eat more fruits and vegetables as they have important nutrients which can boost your immune system.

Getting a flu shot each year may be greatfly beneficial, and if you are 65 or older, get a pneumonia vaccination as well.

Maximize your lung health by implementing these tips in your quest for a healthier you.