While World Lung Day on 25 September has come and gone, lung health is still something which needs to be considered.

Taking care of your lungs is now more important than ever. If the past few years have shown us anything, it’s how we take breathing for granted.

Breathing is a function we need to survive but because it is involuntary, it is easily overlooked. To know if you have healthy lungs, the best thing to do is to consult your doctor or pulmonary specialist.

However, most people who have lung problems will already know that they get short of breath very quickly, have tight chests or battle with breathing in general.

Poor lungs or bad breathing habits lead to low energy, slower metabolism and poor sleep. Steven Sadie, managing director at Airofit SA, gave some pointers on better lung health and breathing.

“The best way to increase lung health is to stop bad habits and immediately start breathing exercises and RMT [respiratory muscle training],” he said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said the following about RMT: “Increasing exercise and fitness can be aided by RMT. RMT can improve breathing through reducing the effort required by the body as it breathes.

Inspiratory muscle training (IMT) is facilitated through the loading of inspiration, normally by using a breathing device.”

Sadie added: “We have had post-Covid patients down and out for months not able to recover who, once they start training their lungs, are able get back to normal in no time.”

Lung capacity can be measured as the full amount of gas in the lungs after a full inspiration – but normally measured on your expiratory amount.

Over time, our lung capacity and lung function typically decrease slowly as we age after our mid-20s. “There are many exercises such as diaphragmatic breathing – or “belly breathing” – to engage the diaphragm, and pursed lips breathing, said Sadie.

There are other options for breath training such as making use of the PEP flute, he added. You can live three weeks without food, four to five days without water but most people can’t live for more than a few minutes without breathing.

“So putting some time and effort into lung health makes sense,” said Sadie.

“By just spending five to 10 minutes a day exercising, you will have all you need to make a huge difference in your life. The biggest bonus is that you do not do this while running, at the gym or under duress, you do this calmly in your own home sitting on the couch.”

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