The lungs are very important and primary organs of the respiratory system in humans and also in other animals. Lungs are the pair of air-filled, spongy organs which are located on both side of the chest or thorax. Pleura, a thin tissue layer covers the lungs from outside and inside of the chest cavity. While a thin layer of fluid acts as a lubricant allowing the lungs to slip smoothly as they expand and contract with each breath.
Lung Capacity is said to be the maximum amount of breath taken by lung. Factors affecting lung capacity are age, sex, body composition and ethnicity. The maximum amount of air you can forcibly exhale from your lungs after fully inhaling is about 80 percent of the total capacity, or 4.8 litres, as some amount of air remains within the lungs once you exhale.
Lung volumes depend on body size, especially height. Generally the total lung capacity (TLC) corrected for age remains unchanged throughout the life. While the functional residual capacity and residual volume increase with age, resulting in a lower vital capacity.
Lung capacity test
A lung volume test helps the health care professionals to find out more about what’s happening within your lungs, the lung capacity and volume test is a way of measuring the total amount of air in your lungs, and how much air is left after you have breathed out as far as you can.
To get your lung volume measured, you are required to sit in a sealed, clear box which looks like a shower cubicle which is sometimes called a body-box which sounds a bit alarming, but it is perfectly safe. Then you’ll wear a clip on your nose to make sure that no air escapes from your nose.
The effort you make to breathe causes changes in the pressure inside the box, as well as within your lungs. You will not feel any pressure changes, as the changes are minute to be felt. It is this change in pressure inside the box which is measured by the machine, and is used to calculate your lung volume.
Spirometry is called as lung capacity tester which is used by doctors to measure how your lungs are functioning. The test works by measuring airflow in and out from your lungs. It is measured by an instrument named spirometer. This instrument records the speed of your breath. The doctor calculates the predicted normal value for you before you go for the test. It takes about 15 minutes to carry out the test. Generally the results for a spirometry test vary from person to person as the results are based on your age, height, race and gender.
The average total lung capacity volume is about 5800 mL in males and 4300 mL in females. Certain health problems may affect the lung capacity, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma. And also age, smoking habit, pollution, and some other factors can cause the lungs to work less efficiently.
Few methods to increase lung capacity
As the world try to stands against the coronavirus infection, the one most important method is by strengthening the lungs, as it is necessary now more than ever.
Rib stretch breathing: Stand upright and breathe in, filling your lungs to the fullest possible, now hold your breath for 10-20 seconds and then exhale slowly and return to the relaxed position.
Diaphragmatic breathing: Sit straight with support or lie on your back. Place one hand on your chest and other on your belly. Breathe in through your nose; make sure your stomach is moving outward while your chest remains still, now exhale slowly for about two seconds while your stomach moves inwards.
Breath out with huff cough: Be at a comfortable seated position, inhale deeper than a normal breath. Using your tummy muscles blow the air out in three even breaths while making the sounds “ha, ha, ha.” Imagine you’re blowing onto a mirror to cause it to steam. Repeat it for few more times.
Pursed lip breathing: Inhale slowly through nose and breathe out as slowly as possible through pursed lips. Repeat it for few more times.
Yoga for lung capacity
Matsyasana: It also supports the body balance and helps in better circulation and distribution of blood within the body.
Simhasan: Cross your ankles while sitting on all fours. Keep your palms in front of your knees with your fingers spread wide. Inhale deeply through your nose and keep your eyes wide open while keeping your mouth open and sticking out your tongue. Contract the muscles at the front of your throat and feel the breath passing through it. You can also carry out your meditation while practising the asana.
Sukhasana: Sukhasana stimulates the blood flow to the lungs and also washes out the harmful toxins from the lung muscles. This asana not only increases your focus and concentration but also helps treat respiratory disorders and cough and cold symptoms. Practising it regularly also reduces stress and anxiety.
Bhujangasana: It not only improves mental calmness but also strengthens the mind and helps stretch out the chest and lungs. The asana also strengthens spine and provides relief from asthmatic symptoms.
Sarvangasana: This asana helps in better expulsion of toxins from the body. It also improves balance and strengthens the reproductive and nervous system within the body.