Lung capacity (or total lung capacity) refers to the total volume of air contained in the lungs after one complete inhalation and is a direct summation of your respiratory capacity and residual capacity (the amount you inhale and the amount your lungs can keep). A diminished lung capacity can stem from a number of conditions such as asthma, emphysema, lung cancer, or from bad habits such as excessive smoking. This, however, can be combated by a number of means.
1. Breathing exercises
Deep breathing: Research has shown, that taking long deep breaths, which basically encompasses inhaling for as long as possible and holding your breath for about 15-20 seconds can work wonders in increasing lung capacity if it can be carried out several times a day.Splashing water on your face: Splashing water on your face while holding breath lowers the heart rate, and prepares the body in the same way as if you were about to go swimming. This will automatically increase your lung's capacity to hold air.Try meditation: Closing your eyes and meditating for long periods may also prove to be beneficial. The lesser the amount of energy that you expend, the more air the lungs can hold.
2. Physical exercises
Engage in rigorous cardiovascular activities: Increased cardiovascular exercising, including aerobics, running, cycling is very useful, as it pushes your body to exhaustion, thus forcing your lungs to work harder - in turn, increasing its capacity.Increase water-based exercises: Swimming or exercising in water is very beneficial for the body as it adds an element of resistance to your training regime and overworks your lungs to supply enough oxygen, making them work better.Try exercising at higher elevations: This often works as a foolproof way of increasing lung capacity. Higher altitudes have lower oxygen supply. Thus, overworking your lungs by engaging in intense workouts can be very beneficial for your lungs.
3. Long-term training exercises
Increase your resistance: Breathe in high quantities of air, and take time before releasing it completely and do it very slowly. This forces your lungs to hold air longer, thus stretching them out.Overwork your brain: Try to breathe in extra - more than what you normally do. This forces your brain to work overtime to make sure that the lungs have the capacity to take in that excess air. This will greatly increase lung capacity in the long run.
If you wish to discuss about any specific breathing problem, you can consult a pulmonologist.
This article was originally published on Practo Health Feed by Dr. Rajesh Swarnakar, Pulmonologist