Bad Habits That Impact Lung Capacity
Everyone has bad habits, but sometimes, it’s hard to see just how those habits are affecting our health and our quality of life. Often, it isn’t until something unpleasant or even serious happens that we finally make the connection between our habits and our wellness.
Lung health is a great example. As long as we’re breathing normally, it’s easy to take that lung function for granted. But when our breathing becomes impaired — even mildly — it can have a big impact on our overall health and our quality of life.
At Medical Access, our team offers state-of-the-art pulmonary function testing at our six locations in Maryland and Virginia, along with the guidance and education patients need to keep their lungs healthy and sound. Here are four habits that could be damaging your lungs.
Habit #1: Smoking
Smoking has a direct negative effect on lung capacity, or how much oxygen-rich air your lungs are able to hold. When you smoke, the structure of your lung changes, making it harder for your lungs to expand and contract the way they normally do during breathing. In fact, smoking changes your lungs at every level, all the way down to the tiny cilia and capillaries that work to bring in oxygen and remove toxins.
Smoking also increases inflammation in the lungs. When inflammation occurs, your lungs produce a lot more mucus, interfering with both lung capacity and oxygen exchange. Quitting smoking helps restore many of these structures and processes, so your lungs can work like they should.
Habit #2: Poor posture
Slumping and slouching are bad for your back, and they’re bad for your lungs, too. That’s because when you slouch or hunch over, there’s less room for your lungs to expand. Even a little bit of compression can alter the way your lungs work, making it more difficult for your lungs to take in oxygen and disperse it through the bloodstream.
Poor posture can also lead to shallow breathing. When you don’t take full breaths, you aren’t taking in as much oxygen as you could be. Over time, shallow breathing can actually weaken your lungs, making it more difficult to fill your lungs to capacity.
Habit #3: Not exercising
When you’re active, your muscles and other tissues need more oxygen. That means your lungs have to work a little harder to meet the increased demand. Over time, regular exercise helps your lungs get stronger, improving their overall function. Plus, because we tend to breathe more deeply during exercise, lung capacity can also be improved.
Aerobic exercise like walking, biking, or swimming are great for your lungs and your heart, too. But exercises that strengthen your back, your core muscles, and even your neck are also important, because they help keep your airways open for better inhalation and exhalation.
Habit #4: Unhealthy diet
We all know the old saying, “You are what you eat.” That’s true of your whole body, including your lungs. Following a healthy eating plan can help you manage your weight, so you decrease your risk of obesity, one of the risk factors for lung and breathing problems.
Unhealthy fats and sugars are associated with an increase in inflammation throughout the body, including the lungs. Plus, research shows that diets high in fiber are associated with better overall lung health.
Keep your lungs healthy at every age
It isn’t always easy to change habits, but knowing the benefits of a few simple changes can make a big difference to your lung health. With practices in Germantown, Rockville, and Beltsville, Maryland, and Alexandria, Woodbridge, and McLean, Virginia, Medical Access makes it easy and convenient to get the care you need to keep your lungs healthy. If you’re having lung-related symptoms, call the office, or use our online form to schedule an appointment today.