As the air gets warmer, more and more outdoor-based events are starting to pop up on our calendars- fun activities like outdoor concerts, street or neighborhood festivals, and sporting events. One of your most important supplies for these events (besides a good pair of sunglasses) is a set of healthy lungs for screaming, cheering, and talking above the din. Here are five breathing exercises to increase your lung capacity:
1. Pilates-inspired Breathing Exercises
Pilates exercises traditionally emphasize measured and deliberate breathing patterns to build flexibility, muscle strength, and endurance. Moves such as the Hundred, the Swan, and Standing Chest Expansion benefit your core while opening up your chest, stretching your intercostal muscles (which are located between your ribs), and deepening your lung capacity.
2. The Numbered Breath Exercise
Take a deep breath, and slowly exhale, releasing all the air from your lungs. Inhale again, and exhale after you have held your breath for two seconds. Inhale, and release your breath after three seconds. Repeat the exercise until you have reached the number eight, and repeat from the beginning. By doing this, you are gradually training your lungs to hold on to air for longer periods of time.
3. Pursed Lip Breathing
With your neck and shoulder muscles relaxed, keep your mouth closed and breathe in for two seconds through your nose. Exhale for four seconds through pursed lips, or, alternatively, for twice as long as you inhaled. This exercise is especially helpful for maintaining your breath while working out as it helps control shortness of breath.
4. Diaphragm Breathing
Lie on your back with your knees bent, one hand on your upper chest and the other hand on your abdomen. Keep your chest as still as possible as you take deep breaths, focusing on using your stomach to breathe. This exercise can be practiced for five to ten minutes at a time and helps strengthen your diaphragm muscle so that you exert less energy breathing.
5. Physical Exercise
Physical exercise will complement the breath-focused exercises above while improving your lung health. Consider adopting a water-based stretching and weight-lifting program or adding cardiovascular exercise to your weekly routine.
Healthy breathing is a must whether you’re gearing up to cheer on your college’s basketball team or getting ready to sing along to your favorite artist at a music festival. By practicing these easy breathing exercises beforehand, your lungs will be as powerful as the roar of the surrounding crowd at your favorite spring event.