Many activities in our busy world require us to use large amounts of air. Increasing the size of your lungs is one option, but you can also increase the amount of oxygen you can breathe into your lungs. You can also increase the efficiency that they use the air. Below is a list of exercises that will help you increase your lung capacity.
How to Increase Lung Capacity
- Pushing Out. To try this, stand on flat ground and bend over at your waist. Keep your knees loose and exhale as much air as possible. Inhale as you slowly stand up. When your lungs are full, hold your breath for 20 seconds, if possible. While you are counting, stretch your arms over your head. Relax and exhale slowly as you lower your arms. This should be done 4 times.
- The Oriental Breath. Inhale 3 small breaths through your nose and do not exhale while you do it. Inhale again and raise your arms to shoulder level out in front of your body. For the next inhale, open your arms wide and on the third inhale, raise your arms overhead. When you exhale, circle your arms to their original positions and do this exercise 10 times.
- Rib Stretch. When you are standing, exhale all of the air from your lungs. Breathe in slowly and let your lungs expand to their fullest. If possible, hold your breath 20 seconds and while you are counting, keep your hands on your hips with the thumbs pointing to the front and the little fingers to the back. Relax and exhale slowly. Do this exercise 3 times.
- Abdominal Breathing. You will need to lie on your back to do this exercise. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Take a deep, slow breath and feel your stomach pulling. You want to see the hand on your abdomen rise higher than the one on your chest. Exhale through your mouth, then breathe in through your nose and hold your breath for about 7 seconds. Breathe out while counting to 8 and squeeze your stomach muscles to make sure all the air is out.
- Numbered Breath. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Let all the air out of your lungs. Inhale again and picture the number 1 as you concentrate on breathing slowly. Exhale after you have held your breath for 2 seconds. Inhale slowly as you picture the number 3 and exhale after holding your breath till the count of 3. Repeat this until you have reached the number 8 then do the entire exercise again.
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- Exercise in Water. When you work out in water, the water acts as a resistance to the movements and your body will need to work harder to supply the oxygen to your blood. Design a stretching/weightlifting program to do out of the pool. Remember that the weights will be lighter when you are in the water. Practice your routine until you are comfortable with it, then get in the water. Lower yourself until you are neck-deep in water and begin your exercises. Because of the compression on your body, you will need to take quicker breaths and your oxygen capacity will be cut dramatically. Your body will compensate for that and if you do your routine in the water regularly, your lungs will become more efficient.
- Cardio Exercise. To really increase lung capacity, do cardiovascular exercises regularly. For the best results, push your body for at least a 30 minute workout. When your body is exhausted, your lungs are working harder and this will result in a larger lung capacity. There are many choices of cardio exercise so it will be easy to find one you enjoy. You could try aerobics, cycling, running or swimming to increase your lung capacity quickly.
- Workout at High Elevation. Higher elevations have less oxygen in the air, so working out in higher areas is a great way to increase your lung capacity. This is tougher on your body, but will show results if you stay with it. When you go to lower elevations, your body will still have increased amounts of hemoglobin and red blood cells for at least 2 weeks. Be very careful when you work out at high elevations because you could develop altitude sickness.
- Breathe Deeply. If you learn to take slow, deep breaths and keep your breathing steady, your lung capacity will improve in a relatively short amount of time. Until you can do this instinctively, try this method to be sure you are taking the deepest breaths possible. Exhale completely – make sure you have no air left in your lungs. Keep your abdominal muscles relaxed and let your diaphragm descend. This will allow your abdomen to expand as you take in a deep breath and fill your lungs with air. If you need to, stretch your arms out to help open up your chest.
- Splash Water on the Face. If you splash water on your face while holding your breath, it accelerates bradycardia. This is the slowing of your heart rate and is the start of the mammalian diving reflex. Splashing water will help your body prepare as if it is going underwater where it needs to keep the heart beat regular and move oxygen throughout the body. Do not use icy cold water as this may cause you to hyperventilate and you will not be able to hold your breath for very long.
- Relax Your Muscles While Holding Breath. When you are trying to relax while holding your breath, close your eyes and even try to meditate. The less energy you are using, the longer you will be able to hold your breath. Begin counting in your head. Your goal is 100, but if you do not make it to 100, remember what number you were on when you took your breath. This will be the number you want to beat the next time you try this.