nurse with stethoscope checking elder patient's lungs

Lung Health and Aging

As we age, our bodies change in a variety of ways. We may no longer be as flexible as we once were, our muscles may not be as toned, and our skin may not be as elastic. These changes are all part of the natural aging process.

The Effects of Aging on Lungs

One area of the body that can be significantly affected by aging is the lungs. The lungs are responsible for taking in oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide.

Over time, the lungs can become less efficient at these functions due to several factors, including:

  • Weakened Respiratory Muscles - The muscles that control our breathing can weaken as we age. This can make it more difficult to breathe deeply and efficiently.
  • Decreased Muscle Mass In Your Diaphragm - The diaphragm is a muscle that helps us breathe. As we age, it can become less elastic and less able to do its job effectively.
  • Stiffened Rib Cage - The bones in our rib cage can become stiffer as we age, making it more challenging to expand our lungs fully when breathing.
  • Loss of Elasticity - The tissues in our lungs can lose their elasticity over time, meaning they are not as effective at expanding and contracting as they once were. This makes it harder for the lungs to take in and release air.

These factors can lead to decreased lung function and an increased risk of health problems such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and even heart disease.

How to Take Care of Your Lungs

We can do many things to help keep our lungs healthy as we age. By participating in certain activities that promote lung health, we can ensure that our lungs stay functional and operate in peak condition!

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is any activity that gets your heart rate up and makes you breathe harder.

This could include activities like:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Or biking

When done regularly, aerobic exercise can help improve lung function and reduce the risk of respiratory problems. Aerobic exercise also has other benefits for overall health, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and obesity.

Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises are a great way to improve your lung health. They help promote deep and efficient breathing, which can help increase the amount of oxygen in your blood and improve your overall cardiovascular health. Additionally, breathing exercises can help to reduce stress and anxiety and even improve your sleep quality.

Eating a Nutrient-Dense Diet

The lungs require many nutrients to function correctly, including:

  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • And essential fatty acids

A nutrient-dense diet can provide these vital nutrients and help keep the lungs healthy. Additionally, eating a healthy diet can help protect against chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease that affect the lungs.

Limiting Exposure to Environmental Pollution

You can do many things to limit your exposure to environmental pollution and improve your lung health.

Here are a few tips:

  • Avoid busy streets and highways where air pollution is highest. Try walking or riding your bike in parks or other green spaces instead.
  • Stay indoors as much as possible on days when the air quality is poor. If you have to go outside, try to do so early in the morning or late at night when pollution levels are typically lower.
  • Change your air filter in your home. Your filter catches air pollutants like dust, dander, and debris, allowing you to breathe cleaner air.

Keeping Healthy with PrimeHealth Asheville

For years, the healthcare professionals at PrimeHealth Asheville have been keeping their patients healthy and active through concierge medicine services. Offering efficient and personalized care, we take pride in being able to design customized wellness plans that fit the exact needs and goals of all of our patients.

Consider being a member of PrimeHealth Asheville by calling (828) 705-3520 or filling out a form online.