Give Your Lungs a Workout

Walking IS a workout!

That seems to be the unanimous response from yesterday’s question about whether or not Walking is a Workout. I go back and forth on the issue because I happen to be a CARDIO JUNKIE. I run. I swim. I bike. I hike FAST. Everything is fast. I even walk fast. So it is sometimes hard for me to think of walking as a workout equal to those activities.

Do you hate running or working out because it feels like you can’t breath and your chest is going to explode?

This is a common occurrence for people just starting out their workout routines. When I was 250 I got winded pretty easily. I started swimming to lose weight and it was a difficult, tiring process. I couldn’t swim for very long before I had to rest and I was exhausted, breathing hard and my heart was pounding!

Practice, practice, practice. The swimming got easier. I could swim longer without stopping to rest, eventually I could swim 1.25 to 1.5 miles without stopping to rest or take a breather. My heart no longer felt like it was exploding and breathing felt natural.

I truly believe that because of the years of Swimming I was able to transition to Running without experiencing any breathing problems!

So here are a few ideas on how to improve lung health:

1. Swimming

Swimming is the single most effective activity in my opinion. Not only does it burn an insane amount of calories, it’s an excellent workout for the entire body. The other positive? One website claims Swimmer’s lungsĀ  use oxygen three times more effectively than the average person.

2. Altitude Training

This is the act of training 5,000+ feet above sea level. Athletes have been using this to gain a competitive edge for years.

Why does it work? “At sea level, air is denser and there are more molecules of gas per liter of air. Because atmospheric pressure is lower at high altitudes, air is less dense and there are fewer molecules of gas per liter of air; this causes a decrease in partial pressures of gases in the body, which elicits a variety of physiological changes in the body that occur at high altitude.” [Source]

This is something I am really interested in experiencing someday. I have noticed that when hiking I don’t suffer from altitude discomfort. I attribute that to my swimming.

3. Yoga

An essential part of yoga is the breathing aspect. Often times this is neglected. I’ve been to many yoga classes where breathing wasn’t even addressed. I thought that was strange since yoga is all about the mind-body connection.

4. Don’t Smoke.

I think this is pretty self-explanatory!

5. Practice deep breathing exercises throughout the day.

This is something I need to start doing on a regular basis. Because of anxiety, I find that I hold my breath a lot. Sometimes I don’t even notice that I’m doing it until I feel lightheaded!

QUESTION: How do you give your lungs a workout? Is there any activity that is harder for you to do?