Lungs: How They Work
If you’re preparing for an exam, getting ready for a meeting, or are just simply curious, the following information about breathing should be kept in mind.
The lungs of the average individual moves approximately 0.5 L worth of air whenever a relaxed breath is taken. This amount may spike up to 3 L when exercising vigorously.
- When inhaling, air travels from your mouth and nose, moving all the way through your bronchi, trachea, larynx, pharynx, and bronchioles (which aren’t any thicker than a hair strand). The air reaches 600 million individual small sacks inside your lungs (alveoli). Each one of these sacks is encompassed by an entire net of small capillaries. From here, carbon dioxide is dropped off by red blood cells before oxygen is picked up. This process is known as a “gas exchange.”
- Whenever you exercise, there is an increase of hydrogen ions and carbon dioxide levels produced in the bloodstream. This results in a decrease of blood pH, amplifying your breathing rate. The main driving force stimulating respiration (particularly at sea levels) stems from the need to eliminate carbon dioxide rather than breathe in oxygen. Respiration increases at altitude since blood isn’t as saturated with levels of oxygen.
- Working out increases the efficiency of your respiratory system. However, it does not enhance lung capacity in any significant way.
The Surprising Results That Come with Breathing Improperly
The diaphragm can be described as a muscle in the shape of the dome situated under the lungs. Whenever you inhale, the diaphragm moves downward in a flattening position.
It presses against your abdominal organs, allowing your lungs to expand. With that said, some adults don’t engage their diaphragms properly. Stress, poor posture, and other aspects cause people to start breathing shallowly.
This makes your upper rib cage move more than necessary. Such movement may result in back and chest muscle discomfort. It may also weaken lower back or pelvic floor muscles, as well as disrupt the way the spine and shoulders naturally move.
To show clients how to achieve correct diaphragmatic breathing, their hands should be placed on the lower rib area. That way, clients will be able to feel the ribs fall and rise when breathing.
Most of this breathing motion will be felt in this area, as opposed to your upper chest, not just during exercise, but all day long.
How Much Do You Know About Lung Disease?
Lung disease is a condition that stops the proper functionality of this vital organ. People suffering from lung disease usually experience fatigue and breath shortness a lot faster when exercising.
The following refresher can offer several guidelines when you are working with clients who have lung disease (assuming their doctors have approved exercise for them).
- Clients that have lung disease typically handle aerobic exercise with a peak capacity that ranges between 40% and 60%. They should engage in exercise between 3 and 5 days each week. They should be active for between 20 and 45 minutes.
- Think about circuit training, perhaps in a PHA (Peripheral Heart Action) format of between 8 and 10 exercises. The amount of reps in a single set should range between 8 and 15 per exercise.
- Emphasis should be placed on breathing control; rest intervals should be frequent.
- Consider introducing pulse oximeters into the exercise program for the sake of tracking the client’s blood oxygen saturation. These levels should go no lower than 85% (ideally 90%). If these levels dip under 85%, then exercise should be immediately stopped.
The Proper Way of Breathing When Exercising
When it comes to strength training, exhaling should happen during exertion, while inhaling should happen during relaxation. For cardiovascular exercises, you should be breathing out and in through your nose.
When the intensity revs up, mouth breathing is encouraged. Consider the following breath control techniques to use with clients.
- If clients have a habit of holding their breath, get them to try and count their reps out loud.
- For clients that get side stitches when they run, encourage them to exhale during their left footfalls, as opposed to the right.
- For clients that are unable to catch their breath, encourage them to stand with their hands behind their head. Encourage the client to open up their lungs to make way for much deeper inhalations. Hands should not be placed on knees, nor should clients be bent over.
- To gauge the intensity of an exercise, a talking test should be used – if an individual is unable to talk very much, then their intensity range is high. On the other hand, if the individual is able to have a full-fledged conversation, then the intensity levels will be moderate (if not low).
- When stretching or cooling down, slow and deep breathing will help calm down the body in an effort to facilitate recovery.
RMT (Respiratory Muscle Training) involves breathing exercises that can build muscles up – specifically ones that have a connection to respiration. Sometimes, unique devices are used for this activity. A study was conducted in 2013 at the University of British Columbia on RMT.
Thousands of participants were systematically interviewed for the sake of narrowing down the subjects to 21 people.
Their findings revealed that RMT is capable of improving sports performances, but researchers weren’t able to determine why. RMT displayed no increase of VO2 max.
Many have speculated that RMT might postpone breathlessness (or at least an onset of it), allowing athletes and exercisers to push much harder for a longer period of time.