Staying at home during lockdown or quarantine can be very stressful. Not being able to get out and stretch your legs for a jog around the town can drive people crazy with cabin fever. But there’s another hidden danger to staying at home all the time: you are stuck breathing the indoor air 24/7.
Studies have shown that indoor air quality tends to be worse than outdoor air. While not true in all instances, the lack of good ventilation can cause air to grow stagnant, to the point that it can affect the quality of your life. Indoor air sensors have proven this from studies done by the EPA, and indoor air tends to be 2 to 5 times worse than outdoor air quality. In some extreme cases, it can be up to 100 times worse!
So how can you keep your lungs healthy while staying at home indoors for extended periods of time?
1. Learn to Breathe – it’s often overlooked because it’s automatic for most people, but the way you breathe can make a huge difference in your respiratory health. Normal breathing is good, but to exert your lungs some good breathing technique is in order.
To get the most out of each breath, when you inhale you focus on expanding your diaphragm (the muscle that separates your chest from your stomach). Basically make your stomach bigger when you start to inhale, drawing air into the bottom of your lungs. Then fill up your lungs by inhaling for about four seconds. Towards the end of the inhale, raise your shoulders, this draws air up into the upper part of your lungs as well.
This technique was probably first recorded in Indian Yoga, but is used today by professional singers to increase their lung capacity. Practice doing this a few minutes every day, or as much as you can, to improve your lung health.
2. Get some Exercise – healthy lungs aren’t just about exercising them specifically. Overall exercise — especially aerobic exercise, can . You want to spent about 20 minutes each day doing light to moderate activity. This will stimulate your heart and lungs, improving your circulatory and respiratory health. It’s the most basic way to stay healthy, and it affects both your lungs and your overall well-being.
3. Improve the Indoor Air Quality – learning to breath properly makes little sense if the air you breathe is polluted. Use an indoor air quality monitor or air sensor to check the viability of the air you breathe. If it isn’t up to spec, take action to improve it. This includes setting up good ventilation — either ventilation fans or a full-blown HVAC system, or simply just opening your windows at regular times each day. Get plants to help improve the air and recycle carbon dioxide, and be sure to keep the house clean of dust: these quickly become particulate matter pollution in the air with a slight gust.
4. Stock up on Antioxidant-rich Foods – as with your general health, what you eat has a huge effect on your longtime lung health. You want foods that are rich in antioxidants: these help reduce the build up of corrosive oxygen byproducts (free radicals) in your cellular tissue, keeping your body safe from deterioration.
Foods you want on the menu include fatty fish such as tuna (rich in omega-3 fatty acids), fruits such as apples and berries, green leafy vegetables like broccoli, and nuts such as walnuts, pecans, and almonds.
5. Drink lots of Water – following the idea that proper nutrition leads to healthier lungs, it’s equally important not to neglect your liquid intake. While you stay at home and are not doing much physical activity you might not be sweating a lot, feeling hot or otherwise getting thirsty, but this is no reason to neglect getting a good daily helping of water.
Water keeps the lungs moist so it doesn’t feel easily irritated by dryness. Further, the water will keep the mucosal lining of your lungs thin, and this makes it easier for your lungs to breath.
6. Laugh a little – they say laughter is the best medicine. Laughing helps bolster your immune system, activating NK Cells which take out antigens that get into your body. This helps keep your lungs in tip-top shape. So get into the habit of laughing a little, or a lot if you prefer! And doing so can help you keep that positive attitude, which is an important and crucial mindset to keep if you want to stay healthy and live a long, happy life.
These tips aren’t difficult to follow, but incorporating them into your daily life can have huge health benefits that you will reap later on. It’s never too late to start, and the sooner you do, the better.