How can we improve lung capacity?
Visualize this...You are trailing (hiking, running, trekking) at any pace... It's all going well... You are enjoying the scene, smelling the great outdoors, but a few minutes later, there is this hill right in front of you that just gets you! All of the sudden you can’t hear the birds or smell a thing anymore. You have been there right?
Now all you can hear is the sound of heavy breathing, the heart pumping hard and you are not paying attention to the surroundings anymore. Sounds familiar? If so keep reading...
Breathing hard is a good thing after all. But, we find ourselves gasping for air, can we get more please? ….Let’s try to get some more…should we?
But first, let’s learn what is lung capacity. In short, It’s how much air your body can use.
Your muscles need oxygen (air) to function properly. As you breathe, your lungs work to intake oxygen and the heart pumps it out through the body to give your muscles the energy they need. The reason why your heart beats faster is so it can increase circulation and it is the reason why you breathing gets heavier during exercise.
When we crumble up a rocky trail or high alpine hiking, our breath increases to 40-60 times per minute so our muscles can continue working….If healthy lungs, and good lung capacity, even when we feel out of breath we still have a large breathing reserve. And you know what that means? that we have more strength, energy and our muscles are functioning well meaning they need less oxygen and they are actually working more efficiently.
4 WAYS TO INCREASY LUNG CAPACITY Strengthen muscles and increase stamina
The more you exercise the more tolerance to hiking lung capacity. Stronger muscles and better stamina so you can go in longer hike. Add workouts that mix cardio and strength training 2 or 3 times a day. This is the amount experts recommend and they say it can increase 5 to 15 % long capacity. Plus with stronger muscles and a higher tolerance you can intake more oxygen efficiently. Just remember to breathe while exercising!!!
So we got the work out going , now we need to set time to add some breathing exercises as well. Breathing well will increase your hiking lung capacity, but also doing good breathing will make you feelings peace and calm. And guess what? When the body is relaxed, you breathe easier! Try these breathing exercises to stay calm, focused and energized out on the trails and in your everyday life.
Simple Breathwork: Find a comfortable seat, either sitting upright or reclined and close your eyes. Inhale in for a count of six or seven. Hold for three seconds (as you repeat this exercise, work up to a five-second hold). Exhale all the air out slowly and with control until empty. Draw your belly in towards your spine to help exhale completely. Repeat this about eight times.
Breath of Threes: In that same comfortable position, close your eyes and inhale fully (count to seven or eight) and hold your breath at the top. Slowly exhale for three seconds and hold. Exhale for another three seconds and hold. Finally, release all the air out until empty. Repeat about eight times.
Alternate Nostril Breathing: Find your comfortable seat and close your eyes. Cover your left nostril with one finger (ring finger works well) and inhale in for a count of six. Pinch both nostrils and hold for three seconds or longer. Cover your right nostril and exhale out for six seconds. Repeat this fives times and practice extending the length of your inhales, exhales and holds (inhale for eight, hold for five, exhale for eight, etc.). When you have finished, sit with your eyes closed and take at least three full rounds of breath, breathing as you normally and notice the difference in your mind, body, and breath.
Stretching: Make room for your breath by doing simple stretches that release tightness in your shoulders, chest and side body. It’s always a good idea to start a yoga practice and incorporate movement with breath work but if yoga is not for you, doing a few simple stretches will help to expand the muscles of your rib cage and diaphragm can help cultivate a greater lung capacity for trailing.
Consistency is key to building up more endurance and greater lung capacity while trailing. It might sound cliché but the more you get out there, the better your trailing lung capacity will become.
Feel good, breathe and be strong!