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Increase your lung capacity and reduce the threat of COVID-19
COVID-19 has been shown to, in some cases, reduce long term lung capacity of those who suffer from it. It has the potential to leave people short of breath for the rest of their lives. With the disease spreading faster than ever, the risks of catching it are higher.

People with healthier lungs are less likely to experience such severe long term symptoms. Here’s what you can do to reduce the impact on your lung capacity, should you catch it.

1) Breathing exercises
There are two breathing exercises you can do to increase your lung capacity. These are belly breathing and pursed lip breathing.

Belly breathing helps you get more oxygen into your lungs and allow you to control shortness of breath.

To do it, sit or lay down, and place your hands on your belly. Close your mouth, and take a slow, deep breath through your nose. Direct the breath to your belly, and let it expand like a balloon. When you exhale, blow through pursed lips. Concentrate on each breath as it comes in and out. Repeat this for around 10 minutes.

The more frequently you practise this, the more your lung capacity will be improved in the long term.

Pursed lip breathing helps to control shortness of breath and forces you to breathe slower and deeper.

To do it, sit down and relax your neck and shoulder muscles. Breathe in through your nose, counting up to 2 for each inhale. Next, purse your lips, and exhale for 4 seconds. It is more effective to make the exhalations slower than the inhalations.

This will keep your airways open longer, removing the air trapped in your lungs, and improving shortness of breath.

2) Stop smoking
Smoking reduces your lung elasticity and increases mucus production. These are both problems for your lung capacity, and to improve your breathing, take away the problem by stopping smoking.

It is difficult to cut out the cigarettes just like that, so if you are having trouble with it, speak to your doctor or join a support group.

3) Exercise
Exercising enough to break a sweat and getting your heart rate up will improve your lung capacity. Pushing your endurance with moderate-high intensity workouts improve circulation and heart health, as well as making you take deeper breaths.

Generally, improved fitness will put you in a better position to fight COVID-19.

4) Eat little and often
Did you know that getting fuller makes you shorter of breath? Eat more frequent, smaller meals to breathe easier throughout the day. It is also true that being overweight can make it harder to breathe, so speak to a doctor about losing weight if that is relevant to you.

5) Avoid perfumes, aerosol deodorants and scented candles
Abrasive scents found in scented particulate products can irritate your airways and throat, making it harder to breathe. If you have had COVID-19, then stay away from artificial strong scents and avoid hacking coughs.

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