Improving lung capacity can be very beneficial to everyone, not just athletes. If you find yourself becoming winded during normal daily activity, such as walking up stairs, there are a few things that you can do to help you breathe better. Regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise, along with breathing exercises, are some of the better ways to achieve this. There are also some changes in your daily life that can help improve your lung capacity, like correcting your posture or quitting smoking. Some endurance athletes also partake in something called high-altitude training.
Probably the most common way to improve your lung capacity is to begin a regimen of regular cardiovascular or aerobic exercise. The rhythmic movement of the longer muscles in your body not only builds strength and burns fat, but also helps exercise the lungs. These exercises increase your heart rate and push the lungs to work harder for the body to get the oxygen that it requires. Like any other part of the body, the lungs can be exercised to perform better.
Walking, running, swimming, biking, and dancing are all excellent forms of aerobic exercise that can help improve your lung capacity. If, like many people, you just don't have time for regular daily exercise, there are a few simple changes that can be made to your lifestyle. Walking up stairs instead of using the elevator or playing with your kids at the park are great forms of this type of exercise.
Some serious or extreme athletes take part in something called high altitude training. They train and practice at higher altitudes, usually 8,000 feet (2,500 meters) above sea level. Some even live at higher altitudes just for the effects that it has on lung capacity.
At these altitudes, the air pressure and the oxygen levels are lower than at sea level, which can result in a person's body producing an increased amount of red blood cells. These are the cells in the body that help transport oxygen throughout the body. This practice, however, can be dangerous for a novice and altitude sickness can occur if a person is not careful.
Focusing on your breathing may also help to increase your lung capacity. Many fitness experts recommend that people with decreased lung function take yoga or tai chi classes because these activities help an individual focus on breathing. Other breathing exercises can also help train the lungs. One simple breathing exercise that can be done anytime or anywhere is deep breathing. To do this, simply breath in as deeply as you can, and exhale very slowly.
A simple way to increase your lung capacity is to maintain correct posture. Maintaining correct posture not only helps you feel and look better, but it can also help you get more oxygen into your body. When a person has poor posture, the lungs do not always have enough room to expand as much as they should, so less oxygen is taken in with each breath. By sitting and standing correctly, a person is in a position to allow his lungs to expand as much as possible, which can result in a better lung capacity.
Another way to improve your lung capacity is to quit smoking. Smokers, on average, have less of a lung capacity than non-smokers. Smoking damages many parts of the lungs, which often results in a decrease in the amount of air that is able to enter the lungs. On the up side, however, this damage is reversible.