How to Increase Your Lung Capacity

June 25, 2007

Many sports in today’s action packed world require you to use a vast amount of air to be successful. While there is no way to increase the size of your lungs, there are many ways to increase the amount of air taken in by your lungs, and the efficiency with which they capture oxygen. Practice these exercises daily, and you are bound to see an increase in your lung capacity.

Steps

1. Breathe deeply. Be sure to do the following as you practice deep breathing in order to maximize your lung capacity:

o Exhale completely. Don’t let any air linger in your lungs. This allows more new, oxygen-rich air to come in. You can ensure the complete evacuation of your lungs by counting out loud. When you can no longer count out loud, you can expel no more air from you lungs.
o Expand your lower ribs and allow your diaphragm to descend by keeping your abdominal muscles relaxed. Your abdomen will expand as your diaphragm descends making more room around your lungs, allowing them to fill with air.
o Widen your hands, holding them further away from your body, to help open up your chest.
o Inhale for two counts, and exhale for three counts. Maintain this ratio consistently.

2. Create resistance.

o Breathe in normally, through your nose. Take deep breaths.
o Breathe out through your mouth with your lips still close together. Open them just slightly so a little bit of air can get out, and with resistance. Try and do this as often as possible — it makes the sacs in your lungs more used to having to hold air longer, stretching them out.

3. Exercise in water.

o Develop a normal stretching and weight lifting routine out of the water. Make sure that you compensate for the fact that weights will feel lighter when you have the water around you. Practice this routine for a few days until you are comfortable with everything.
o Take it to the water. Submerge yourself up to your neck, and do the exercises while in the water. This may not seem like it is doing anything to help you at all, but don’t worry. Due to the blood shifting into your chest cavity and the compression on your body, you will have to take shorter, quicker breaths when exercising in the water. Research shows that your air capacity will be cut by up to 75% during this time, and your body will try to compensate for that. If your exercise in the water lasts long enough, and you do it regularly, your respiratory system will become more efficient, increasing your lung capacity.

4. Get extra air.

o Take a piece of pipe with a diameter small enough to put into your mouth without hurting your jaw. It should, however, make you open your mouth wide- about as wide as an average yawn. Length-wise, the pipe should not be long at all. It should be maybe half an inch long- it’s not the length you’re looking for, but the width.
o Put the pipe in your mouth. (Do be sure it’s sanitary and clean)
o Breathe. Do so very carefully, though, because if you breathe too quickly, you will become lightheaded. Do this for a little while every day, and you will soon realize that you are able to take longer and longer breaths without becoming lightheaded. If you do this often enough, you should be able to take very deep, full breaths and be perfectly fine. This works because your body is becoming more adjusted to receiving more oxygen with every breath, because, obviously, you don’t breathe like you are yawning all the time.

5. Play a Wind Instrument.

o Learn how to play a wind or brass instrument such as a tuba, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, or flute. This activity will help you control breathing and expand your lung capacity to utilize all the alveoli.
o Play in a marching band or a Drum and Bugle Corps. This activity requires more and more lung capacity utilization for your movement and playing and is quite healthy.

6. Participate in rigorous cardiovascular activities such as aerobics, cycling, and running.

Tips

• Training at higher altitudes, if possible, can also help increase lung capacity. The air in high altitude areas has less oxygen in it, which will force your lungs to work harder and become more efficient. But be careful, though, as altitude sickness is a possibility as your body adjusts.
• Quit Smoking. You probably already know to stay away from any kind of smoking, but you should also stay away from smoke-filled environments, where you’re exposed to second-hand smoke.
• Playing any wind instrument with correct diaphragm breathing techniques can make a dramatic change in lung capacity. Singing is also a great way to achieve the same results.
• In a pool, position your chest as far underwater as possible and breathe through a tube. The further underwater you are, the more pressure is applied to your chest, making it hard to breathe. Make sure you can keep the tube above water or you will end up with lungs full of water. Note that at even a couple feet down it may be impossible to inhale.
• A 3/4″ PVC pipe coupler is the perfect tube for most people to hold between their teeth to practice breathing exercises and, if it isn’t right for a particular individual, they can use a 1/2″ or 1″ coupler. They are cheap and can be sterilized. They are a great aid to help singers open up!
• Instead of using a piece of PVC you can use two knuckles. Also, thinking about breathing from the bottom up–like a glass of water being filled–helps.

Warnings

• Whenever you become lightheaded, breathe normally.

• Don’t exercise in water unless you know how to swim.

• Do not perform these exercises without consulting your doctor if you have any respiratory conditions.

• When breathing underwater (for example, when SCUBA diving), stabilize your depth and never hold your breath or ascend while inhaling. Air expands when ascending and the lungs can rupture if you are holding your breath.

• Don’t exercise, run, swim, etc. with a PVC tube in your mouth. You could choke!

Stay Safe….. Live Well…..

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