(NaturalNews) We often think of heart health as the determining factor in our overall wellness, but we may be missing the mark. How lung capacity affects our health is often overlooked, but it may in fact be one of the most important predictors of health and longevity.
We Lose Lung Capacity as We Age
Starting at about the age of 30, our lung capacity begins to decrease. By the time we are 50 our lung capacity may be half of what it was in our youth. Decreased lung capacity means respiratory function is impaired and less oxygen is getting into our cells. This explains why shortness of breath, decreased endurance, and susceptibility to respiratory illness commonly increases with age.
Lung Capacity Directly Impacts Health, Stamina and Longevity
Decreased lung capacity negatively impacts our health in several ways:
- lack of oxygen impairs metabolic function - decreased stamina and endurance during activities - lack of oxygen reserves increase risk in heart attack and stroke - poor energy and general fatigue - decline in general focus, concentration and memory - decreased lung capacity is associated in increased inflammation
The famous Framingham study (which followed 5,200 individuals for three decades) demonstrated that the greatest predictor of health and longevity is actually lung volume. Those with higher lung capacity were healthier and lived longer than those with decreased lung capacity.
How to Retain and Regain Your Lung Capacity
Many view lung capacity loss as a normal degenerative process that can`t be stopped. But this is simply not true. Lung capacity can be retained and even restored. Some practices that can help build lung capacity include:
1. Regular practice of deep breathing exercises. Learn to take deep breaths, engage the lungs and flood the body with fresh oxygen.
2. Play a wind instrument. Some suggest practicing a wind instrument like a flute or oboe for at least 10 to 15 minutes daily to improve lung capacity.
3. Exercise for lung capacity. High intensity exercises that create an oxygen debt trigger metabolic processes that will increase lung capacity over time. Low intensity duration activities are more likely to negatively affect lung volume unless supplemented with high intensity interval training, which challenges the lungs to rebuild.
Elizabeth Walling is a freelance writer specializing in health and family nutrition. She is a strong believer in natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about health and wellness. You can visit her blog to learn more: www.livingthenourishedlife.com/2009/10/welco...