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What is an Expand-A-Lung™?

By M.R. Anglin
Updated Feb 24, 2024
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The Expand-a-lung™ is a device that helps people to enhance their respiratory functions. Many athletes and people with limited lung function, such as those with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), may be able to strengthen and enhance their respiratory function by engaging in special exercises. The Expand-a-lung™ may be able to help a person do this. The device is about four inches long (about 10.2 cm) and has a silicon mouthpiece, as well as one moving part that helps to increase and decrease breathing resistance. It is this resistance that can help a person strengthen respiratory muscles and can help him achieve increased lung capacity and breathing efficiency.

In order to increase lung capacity, the Expand-a-lung™ exercises respiratory muscles. When a person inhales, the diaphragm and the external intercostal muscles expand the chest in order to allow the lungs to fill with air. During resting exhalation, the muscles relax, allowing the chest to return to its normal shape, thus expelling the air. With resistance, however, the intercostal muscles, as well as other muscles, must contract in order to expel air. The Expand-a-lung™ works to increase resistance during inhalation and exhalation in order to strengthen muscles and increase breathing efficiency.

In order to experience the strengthening effect of the device, a person should do the exercises that are recommended. To do these exercises, an individual should start by adjusting the breathing resistance to his preference. He is to then exhale and inhale in order to work his respiratory muscles. In order for the exercises to work efficiently, the breathing resistance on the device should be challenging without restricting air flow too much. The instructions also recommend that a person pause between breaths using the device so that he can recover.

The Expand-a-lung™ works by using increased resistance to cause the target muscles to expand the lungs and thorax more than is normally needed. Similarly, exhaling also causes the thorax and lungs to contract more than they normally do. These exercises help to increase the amount of air that is inhaled into the lungs, as well as to allow more air to be expelled during exhalation. This increased inhalation and exhalation allows for more oxygen to be taken in and more carbon dioxide to be expelled in each breath. The result is a person who has trained his lungs and respiratory muscles to be more efficient.

For an athlete, increased lung capacity can help give him an advantage. With more lung capacity, he can achieve greater endurance while engaging in his particular activity. Those with COPD may be able increase their lung capacity so that breathing can become more efficient. It is recommended that the exercises be done before a person eats and before a person engages in certain exercises. The device also should be completely washed with antibacterial soap after every use.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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