“Expanding lung capacity”
Is it possible?
It is possible to increase your lung capacity to a degree. However, a better way to describe this is to perhaps say…….
“It is possible to have a better uptake and distribution of oxygen by the lungs which will better serve our heart and muscles and in turn enable our bodies to function more effectively.”
Exercises that improve lung capacity also improve cardiovascular functioning. This is because the heart, lungs and circulatory systems work together to distribute oxygen to all parts of the body. That’s their function and they work together to make this all happen.
Lung capacity will vary from person to person. Average human lungs hold about 5 litres of air. These volumes change with height, age, sex, weight and the amount of effort during physical activity. Males tend to have a bigger lung capacity than females. Generally females’ lung capacity is approximately 20-25% less than males. Healthy, tall people will normally have more total lung capacity then their shorter counter-parts. Smokers generally have less lung capacity.
The measure we use to give us a picture of our lung function is the FEV1 method. This is often used for assessing airway obstruction in those whom may suffer with Asthma or other respiratory diseases. The FEV1 is the volume exhaled during the first second of a forced expiratory manoeuvre, started from a level where you have taken the deepest breath possible. FEV 1 does decline with age and can be affected by altitude.
One of the indicators of your fitness and aerobic performance is also your VO2 max. VO2 max or maximal oxygen uptake is a measure of how much oxygen your body can process to produce continual exertion. It is measured in millilitres of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute. (ml/kg/min)
When you increase your intensity of exercise your body demands more and more O2 and energy to keep you going without keeling over. To produce all of that effort your body utilises a lot of oxygen. Eventually you reach the level at which your body maximizes its ability to deliver and extract oxygen within your body.
Completing cardiovascular activities (or aerobic workouts) will increase the uptake of oxygen. As you progress and increase the intensity, your lungs’ capacity to utilize oxygen from the air that you breathe in will improve.
Some simple advice:
1. Start with a moderate exercise regime and increase the intensity as you improve. Each person will be at a different level, so start where it is comfortable for you. This can include but is not limited to running on a treadmill, rowing on a stationary rower, running around the area in which you live or simply riding your push bike.
2. Don’t smoke.
3. Some athletes have used devices that they believe assist with lung function. A device known as a Triflow (brand name) is a means of encouraging a slow sustained inspiration (breath in). It is believed that these deep slow breaths expand the small air sacs in the lungs and can help remove mucus and any fluid in the lungs. They are also given to people convalescing in hospital and others whom have been inactive for long periods of time.
However, the best way to assist with efficient gas exchange in the body is to train aerobically. Find an activity that you love and you will increase your aerobic threshold without realizing it.