Amazing machines, the lungs. Without them, we obviously couldn’t breathe… but we also wouldn’t be able to turn calories into energy. And although we often take our lungs for granted, there’s a lot that goes into every breath we take. In fact, so much goes into the process of breathing that when the system isn’t working at peak efficiency, it can start to impact our overall feeling of health and wellness. There are even certain breathing techniques you can learn to help you combat workout fatigue.
When you’re breathing with the proper technique, your breathing engages the diaphragm and just a few other muscles that help expand the chest cavity. However, if the lungs are not working efficiently, the body has to work harder to bring more air into the lungs. When functioning at low levels, the body compensates with volume rather than efficiency. But to do that, the diaphragm and muscles around the upper body all have to engage to ensure every breath. Slowly but surely, those muscles use up energy and can leave you feeling exhausted.
Air pollution, smoking, genetics can all contribute to sub-par lung health. And it’s an incremental difference that goes unnoticed for far too long. The good news is you can self-test your lung capacity and performance with something as simple as the candle test. Can you blow out at least 3-4 candles spaced about an inch apart? Can you do it with one breath? Can you blow up a balloon? If the answer is no, or that it comes with difficulty, you may want to exercise your lungs. Regular cardiovascular activity helps the most, but just that simple act of blowing up a balloon creates good resistance training for your lungs. A little training on your breathing technique can help you last longer on your run or get that extra rep in at the gym so breathing the right way is paramount for peak performance.