The increasing awareness on maintaining and optimising lung health has led people to adopt mindful diets and physical exercise while letting go of unhealthy lifestyle habits. Experts say that it is imperative to include morning exercise in your daily routine in order to get optimum benefits.
How does exercising improve lung health?
“Regular exercise leads to better oxygenation of muscles, which increases muscle function. This results in optimum lung health,” says Dr Manjunath P H, a pulmonologist from Narayana Health, Bengaluru.
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Why is it beneficial to exercise in the morning?
Uday Chandra Barman, a 66-year-old retired navy officer from Assam, has a fixed morning routine: cycling back and forth to the park that takes about 20 minutes, brisk walking for 20 minutes and stretching exercises. At home, he religiously performs five deep breathing exercises of Pranayama for around 40 minutes. He says that he meticulously follows the techniques of Pranayama such as Bhastrika (rapid inhalation and exhalation), Anuloma Viloma (alternate nostril breathing), Bhramari (humming bee breathing) and Kapalabhati (skull shining breathing).
“After morning exercise, I feel refreshed for the day. I feel quite lethargic if I do not follow this routine,” says Barman.
Doing exercises in the morning is better than in the evening as the air quality is better, says Dr Manjunath. “Air pollution in cities occurs mostly because of vehicular movement which worsens as the day progresses,” he adds.
Experts also caution that exercising too close to bedtime can affect sleep.
Happiest Health gives you a list of simple, easy-to-do morning exercises:
Simple cardio exercises
Dr D S Sowjanya, a pulmonologist at Kamineni Hospitals, Hyderabad, recommends a healthy individual with optimal body mass index (BMI) to do half an hour of cardio exercises daily for at least five days a week. “However, people having high BMI levels need to do vigorous exercises,” she says. She lists out the following exercises:
- Brisk walking
She continues that these simple cardio exercises are sufficient for people who don’t find the time to perform vigorous exercises for maintaining lung health.
There are certain vocal cord vibrations that humans use during singing only, says Dr Sowjanya, because of which, singing is a kind of deep breathing exercise. “Singing is a type of morning exercise which will increase lung capacity,” she adds.
Muscle building and strengthening exercises
Dr Manjunath says that muscle building and strengthening exercises (like weightlifting) improve the skeletal muscle health or muscle function which indirectly improves lung function.
Uttarkashi-based yoga instructor, Bhavna Yadav, tells Happiest Health that yoga helps in using our lungs to their full capacity by taking deep conscious breaths which helps in optimising lung health.
Prolonged expiratory breathing in yoga cleanses the pollutants and allergens deposited in the lungs, according to Dr Sowjanya.
Yadav mentions the following asanas that focus on improving overall lung health:
- Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)
- Matsyasana (Fish pose)
- Surya Namaskara (Sun salutation)
“A 30-minute yoga practice under the guidance of a teacher is enough to get started with,” advises Yadav. She adds that a combination of deep breathing exercises like Anuloma Viloma and Kapalabhati should be done in the morning.
What causes lung health to fail?
Dr Manjunath lists out the reasons why lung health deteriorates:
- History of smoking.
- Extreme exposure to pollutants– indoor and outdoor.
- Outdoor air pollution including gaseous emissions from vehicles, industries, fire incidents, smoke, etc.
- Indoor air pollution including burning of incense sticks, camphor, wood and smoke from chulhas (traditional earthen stove) in rural areas.
- Repeated lung infections.
- Stressful lifestyle.
- People who are genetically predisposed to declining lung health.
- Morning is the best time to exercise due to reduced pollution.
- Doing simple, easy-to-do cardio exercises (like brisk walking, jogging, yoga and even singing) in the morning can keep lung health at an optimum level.