Your heart and brain get all the credit for being your body’s powerhouses. But what about your lungs? There’s nothing like taking a deep breath of fresh air or heaving a big sigh as you finally kick your feet up on the couch at the end of a long day. None of this would be possible without your lungs; unfortunately, lung function can decrease as we age. The good news: There are some easy things you can do to strengthen them. Keep reading for three simple, science-backed tips to boost your lung health.
1. Nose Breathing
Inhaling through your nose triggers the sinuses to release nitric oxide. And that’s key, says Healthline, because the compound travels deep into your lungs, where it improves blood circulation, thus increasing your oxygen absorption and even strengthening your immune system. If you have trouble breathing nasally, try this belly breathing exercise from Healthline. Added bonus? It relieves stress, too.
- Sit up tall or lay flat.
- Relax shoulders and close mouth.
- Place one hand on chest, the other on your belly.
- Inhale slowly through your nose, allowing your belly to fill with air and rise. Your chest shouldn’t move.
- Exhale slowly through pursed lips.
- Repeat for 5-10 minutes.
2. Salty Steams
A day at the beach is more than just relaxing — it could be good for your lungs, too. Breathing in salty, moist air relaxes airways, loosens mucus, and boosts blood flow to the lungs, reducing airway inflammation so you breathe more easily, according to 2015 research. The scientists add that this practice may also kill bacteria, soothe skin conditions like psoriasis and dermatitis, and reduce stress. But if beach strolls aren’t an option for you, try this: Stir 2 tablespoons of sea salt into two cups of just-boiled water, drape a towel over your head, lean over the mixture, and breathe for 10 minutes twice weekly.
3. A Fish Oil Supplement
Try a supplement. A daily dose of fish oil, which is high in DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, may aid in overall lung health. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that those who took DHA had lower risk of lung disease and fewer lung problems than those who didn’t. Fish oil’s benefits don’t stop there, either. Mount Sinai notes that it can also reduce symptoms of depression, lupus, and arthritis, as well as keep heart disease at bay. Talk to your doctor about what dosage of fish oil supplements is best for you.
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.