Ways to keep your lungs healthy
While we can’t completely limit our exposure to illnesses that affect the lungs — like COVID-19, flu and pneumonia — we can safeguard the health of our lungs by taking certain precautions and making healthy lifestyle choices.
Use the following tips to help keep your lungs healthy and reduce the risk of lasting damage if you do come down with a respiratory illness.
Quit smoking. Although quitting smoking may be easier said than done, it’s important for your lung health. Harmful chemicals in tobacco and vaping liquids cause inflammation and damage to the lungs. Smoking also increases your risk for lung cancer. Ask your doctor for help to stop smoking and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
Manage chronic health conditions. Follow your health care provider’s instructions to control diabetes and respiratory illnesses like asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). These conditions put you at greater risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19, as well as flu-related complications such as bronchitis or pneumonia.
Reduce exposure to allergens. This is important if you have allergies and asthma. Dust mites, mold and mildew, pet dander, and tree and grass pollen are common culprits. Wash bedding in hot water, dust at least once a week and wear a filtering mask when you work in the garden or mow the lawn.
Avoid outdoor and indoor air pollution. Stay inside on days when air pollution levels are high. Have your home tested for radon, an odorless gas that causes lung cancer. Some cleaning products can also affect your breathing, so use them carefully and with proper ventilation.
Get regular exercise. Aerobic and muscle-building exercises can benefit your lungs in two ways: They increase lung capacity, or the amount of air your lungs can hold, and they may improve your lung function. Ease into exercise by starting a walking routine, and try simple exercises at home such as marching in place, lunges and squats.
To your good health
Taking care of your overall health is also good for your lungs — it helps boost your immune system so you can fight off illness and heal faster if you become sick or injured.
Eat a nutritious diet. Plan your meals and snacks around lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. They help maintain a healthy weight, prevent certain types of cancer and keep blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels in check.
Make time for checkups. Seeing your doctor regularly helps them monitor your health and find any problems early when they are most treatable. Getting recommended health screenings, a yearly flu shot and other vaccinations are vital to good health.