How to Increase Your Lung Capacity

We rarely consider our lungs’ function in ensuring that we remain robust and healthy. It’s not until we have trouble breathing that we realise how hard our lungs work for us; until we have trouble breathing, we realise how hard they work. For our lungs to operate at their full potential, just like the rest of our body, they require regular maintenance and care.

Through breathing, oxygen is delivered to your body’s cells. People who do not get enough oxygen have an increased risk of developing various respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

However, the regular breathing that we do throughout the day is not sufficient, in the opinion of the medical professionals at RUSH University Medical Center, to maintain optimal levels of oxygen circulation throughout the body.

The lungs are only at 50 per cent of their capacity when at rest and during the majority of daily activity. Therefore, movement and activity are extremely beneficial to the lungs, just as they are to the rest of the body.

Regular day-to-day exercise does not help you use your lungs to their full capacity; therefore, you will need to challenge the lungs with more strenuous activities to maximise their potential.

The accumulation of toxins and tar in the lungs as a result of environmental pollutants, allergies, dust, and cigarette smoke requires that you assist your lungs in cleaning themselves. And to help combat the buildup of toxins and tar in the lungs.

Lung capacity shows how much air your lungs can hold. Performing breathing exercises can improve your lung capacity over time.

The total amount of air that your lungs are capable of holding is referred to as your lung capacity. After we reach the middle of our 20s, it is normal for our lung capacity and function to diminish over time as we age gradually.

Certain illnesses, such as asthma, can drastically quicken the deterioration of a person’s lung capacity and functionality. It results in difficulty breathing as well as a feeling of being short of breath.

Several activities can assist with maintaining lung capacity, making it much simpler to keep your lungs healthy and supply your body with the oxygen it requires.

What exercises can help increase lung capacity?

Pursed lip breathing

This type of breathing can assist in maintaining the airways open for a longer period, making it easier for air to enter and exit the lungs.

To breathe through the pursed lips:

  • Maintain a good posture by sitting up straight; this will help to stimulate lung flow.
  • Take calm, deep breaths through the nose while maintaining complete control over your breathing.
  • Put your lips together so they almost touch one another, as if you were creating a “kissing” expression.
  • Exhale via your closed lips; ideally, your exhalation should be twice as long as the duration of your inhalation.

Some people find that concentrating on time, such as taking 5 seconds to breathe in and 10 seconds to breathe out, is very helpful. In addition, keeping a clock that displays the seconds close at hand can be useful.

People who are not physically active and do not likely to put their breathing muscles through many exercises may benefit particularly from pursed lip breathing.

Belly breathing

The American Lung Association developed an exercise that helps enhance the lungs’ rate of expansion and contraction.

Strengthening the diaphragm muscle is the primary emphasis of belly breathing. This muscle is responsible for a person’s ability to take in more air when they inhale deeply.

To complete the workout:

  • Place your palm or another lightweight item on your tummy for support.
  • Take a slow breath through the nose, and observe how far the stomach expands as you do so.
  • Exhale via the mouth as you do so.
  • Take a breath in through the nose, and while doing so, concentrate on making the stomach rise even farther than it did with the last breath you took.
  • Exhale, and give each exhalation a duration two to three times that of the corresponding inhale.
  • It is important to perform periodic shoulder rolls in both forward and backward directions and to move the head from side to side to prevent the exercise from causing stress in the upper body.

Regular abdominal breathing and breathing with the lips pursed together for five to ten minutes daily can improve lung function.

Interval training

It could be a better option than steady exercise for people who experience dyspnea or shortness of breath while exercising.

Interval training consists of alternating between brief periods of exercise that are more difficult and those that are less strenuous. A person could, for instance, try walking at an extremely rapid pace for one minute, then walking at a more normal pace for two minutes, in the form of a cycle.

Similarly, a person might engage in a strength training activity for one minute, such as bicep curls or lunges, and then walk slowly to moderately for two to three minutes.

The lungs are given time to recover between bouts of intense exercise thanks to interval training.

When doing physical activity that creates chest tightness or difficulty breathing, it is a good idea to ease off for a few minutes. It may be beneficial to practice pursed lip breathing until the feeling of having difficulty breathing passes.


What causes low lung capacity?

There are many different factors that, over time, might lead to a reduction in one’s lung capacity. However, most of the time, the culprit is simply becoming older since our bodies naturally slow down.

Other possible underlying causes

Some examples of Trusted Sources are:

  • chronic lung disorders such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, and asthma
  • having obesity
  • chest wall abnormalities caused by inactivity due to not being physically active
  • having a low vitamin D level being overweight, with a high waist-to-hip ratio
  • Pregnancy from a Reliable Source

What is normal lung capacity by age?

The lungs’ capacity and function can vary from one individual to the next and shift throughout our lives. However, the lungs can hold around 6 litres of air at one time at their greatest capacity.

The muscles required for breathing can become less strong with age, and your lungs can lose some suppleness as you age. As a result, your lungs’ capacity to store air and the efficiency with which they exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide are reduced.

Spirometry is the name of the test that medical professionals use to determine a patient’s lung capacity. The test findings can assist in diagnosing illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma and reveal how effective therapies are functioning.

Spirometry tests have the potential to show the following:

  • The amount of air that you can forcefully exhale in one second is referred to as your forced expiratory volume (FEV1).
  • The total amount of air you can exhale after taking a deep breath is your forced vital capacity (FVC).

The results of a spirometry test are reported to patients by their doctors as a percentage of the “normal” number expected for someone of their height, age, gender, and race. For instance, if your FEV1 is 80%, this indicates that you can exhale 80% of the volume of air that a person of your height, age, sex, and race who has healthy lungs could exhale in one second. It applies to both healthy and unhealthy lungs.

According to Trusted Source, normal values for FEV1 and FVC are over 80% of the expected value. Therefore, the presence of lung disease may be indicated by values that are lower than 80%.

9 Tips for Healthy Lungs

1. Diaphragmatic breathing

A pulmonary rehabilitation therapist at RUSH Oak Park Hospital, these easy breathing methods are among the numerous things you can do to keep your lungs functioning properly. You can find more information about this topic on the RUSH website.

These approaches can be utilised for people with lung problems linked to asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and healthy persons. These techniques can also be used for people experiencing lung problems associated with cancer.

When practising diaphragmatic breathing, one must be conscious of the diaphragm muscle between the lungs and the organs found in the abdomen.

If you focus on lowering your diaphragm as you breathe, you’ll be able to take far more air into your lungs. It is the method that professional singers employ to expand the capacity of their lungs.

2. Simple deep breathing

Practising slow, deliberate breathing might bring you closer to filling your lungs to their maximum capacity.

While you slowly inhale, make an effort to deliberately extend your stomach while also being aware of lowering your diaphragm. After that, you should extend your ribs and allow them to hang open like wings. Lastly, the upper chest should be allowed to extend and raise.

The next step is to exhale as completely as you can by first allowing your chest to fall, then drawing your ribs in toward your body, and finally drawing your stomach muscles in toward your spine to lift your diaphragm and expel any remaining air.

3. ‘Counting’ your breaths

Increasing your inhalations and exhalations is another method for expanding your lung capacity. Start by timing how long it takes to take a breath. It should take the same amount of time as exhaled if the former takes up to the count of five. Please make sure they are the same length.

Add one more count to each inhale and exhale until you can comfortably prolong the time it takes to fill and empty your lungs. Once you have determined the count for your average breath, add one more count to each inhalation and exhale.

The goal is to not put an unnecessary load on yourself or cause discomfort; the process should be slow and straightforward.

4. Watching your posture

The lungs are delicate structures, so they only take up the space you make for them in your body.

To create extra lung space, Singh recommends occasionally adopting an upright posture and reaching toward the ceiling. However, if you want to give your lungs even more space, a simple strategy that can help is to lean back slightly in a stable chair, lift the chest, and open the front of your body as you breathe deeply.

5. Staying hydrated

Consuming an adequate amount of water is crucial for the health of the lungs, just as it is for the rest of the body.

Maintaining a healthy level of hydration means taking fluids regularly throughout the day. In addition, it helps keep the mucosal linings of the lungs thin. The lungs can operate more effectively due to this thinner lining.

6. Laughing

Laughing is a terrific exercise that works the abdominal muscles and increases lung capacity. Also, it cleans your lungs by forcing enough stale air out, enabling fresh air to get into more parts of the lung.

7. Staying active

Regular activity of moderate intensity is fantastic for the lungs. You get three things done when you increase your daily activity: healthy lungs, a healthier heart, and a better mood.

Aim for at least twenty minutes per day of intense movements, such as riding a bike or going for a brisk walk.

8. Joining a breathing club

If you have lung problems that prevent you from being active, consider joining a breathing club.

These are support groups for persons who have issues with their lungs or their breathing. You can practice different breathing techniques and receive encouragement and knowledge that will assist you in maintaining your health and improving the overall quality of your life.

9. Pulmonary rehabilitation

The RUSH Oak Park Hospital Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program is designed to assist patients diagnosed with a chronic lung illness such as asthma, post-COVID-19 lung disease, or lung cancer in their quest to return to a more active lifestyle.

You will participate in a personalised 10- to 18-week course of exercise, education, counselling, and support as part of pulmonary rehabilitation. This course is designed to help you regain your physical strength and stamina and address emotional barriers preventing you from experiencing optimal health and well-being.

What is the Difference Between Lung Function and Lung Capacity?

The term “lung function” refers to the body’s capacity to oxygenate the blood, eliminate carbon dioxide from the blood, and breathe in and exhale air. Lungs also play a role in digestion. On the other side, lung capacity is the greatest quantity of oxygen your body can utilise, and it measures how much air your lungs can take in. Your lung function is fixed, and there is no way to improve it.

However, there are several things you may do to enhance the amount of air that can pass through your lungs. Because of this, your body can use oxygen more effectively, reducing the stress caused by respiratory and pulmonary problems.

How to Increase Lung Capacity

Lung exercises are the answer in a nutshell.

Rib stretching, abdominal breathing, and pushing yourself further out can be excellent places to begin if you want to increase your lungs’ capacity. Continue reading this article to learn how to perform these exercises to improve your lungs.

3 Breathing Exercises You Can Do to Improve Lung Capacity:

1. Rib Stretching

To do this exercise, you must stand upright and exhale deeply until your lungs are empty. After that, you will slowly breathe in, trying to fill your lungs to their maximum capacity. You should hold your breath for at least 20 seconds or for as long as you feel you can.

Place your hands on your hips so that your thumbs point forward, and your pinky fingers touch the small of your back. Do this while you are counting.

After successfully holding your breath for the allotted twenty seconds, you should slowly release it and resume a position that allows you to relax. Iterate three times.

2. Abdominal Breathing

To complete this exercise, you should find a comfortable posture on your back and then lie down. For example, you might perform this exercise on a cushioned surface like a yoga mat or a soft pad, or you could do it while lying in bed in the morning or the evening.

To get started, place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen and rest them there. Then, please take a few deep breaths and focus on elevating your stomach as you do so that it becomes higher than your chest. Next, exhale via your mouth, and then immediately inhale through your nose, focusing on feeling the rise and fall of your stomach with each breath.

Try to hold your breath for seven seconds, then breathe out for eight seconds if feasible. Next, you need to tighten the muscles in your abdominal region to expel all of the air from your lungs. It should be done five times.

3. Pushing Out

It would be best if you stood tall with a slight knee bend for this particular workout. Next, slowly bend at the waist while exhaling slowly to force air out of your lungs. The next step is to slowly stand back up and inhale until both lungs are full to their fullest capacity.

Try holding your breath for 20 seconds or longer. Raise your arms over your head while you hold your breath. Slowly pull your arms down to your sides, exhale through your mouth, and return to a position where you are comfortable.

girl running treadmill gym training

Seven Ways to Improve Your Lung Capacity

Stop smoking.

You have a prior warning of its occurrence. The lungs are harmed by smoking, which can lead to various health issues, including lung cancer and respiratory diseases. And it will undoubtedly affect the capacity of your lungs. We have all seen studies comparing healthy lungs to smokers’ lungs; the NHS reports that your lung capacity will have increased by at least 10% nine months after you quit smoking.

Do breathing exercises.

Take a few deep breaths and relax. There are a variety of breathing exercises that can assist in maintaining your lungs. The first requires you to stand up straight with your back arched, take a breath, and hold it for ten seconds. It is an exercise that you can easily perform while watching television. 

Consume enough vitamin D.

A study published this year shows higher vitamin D levels are related to improved lung function. During the summer, most people can get enough vitamin D from the sun, although this varies depending on where they reside. However, when fall turns into winter, and the sun gets lower in the sky, it’s a good idea to start thinking about investing in vitamin D tablets. Additionally, foods like oily fish, egg yolks, and red meat all contain vitamin D in their natural forms. 

Indulge your inner musician.

Singing can improve one’s lung capacity. Therefore if you are one of the many people who enjoy singing in the shower, you may be in luck, as this information has been presented. It greatly benefits people suffering from respiratory disorders, as the British Lung Foundation states.

According to the organisation, patients with lung diseases reported that learning to control their breathing through singing helped them better manage their ailments. It is a topic that is still being looked into at this time. However, according to the findings of a study conducted on twenty students in Indonesia and published in 2015, the average lung capacity of choir singers was higher than that of non-singers. 

Get active

People desire to improve their athletic ability, which is one of the reasons they wish to expand their lung capacity. One of the helpful strategies to accomplish this is to engage in regular physical activity. This process happens more quickly when you exercise, making your lungs stronger and more effective. As you should have learned in biology class, your lungs deliver oxygen into the body and expel carbon dioxide.

Sort out your posture.

Studies have demonstrated that slouching when sitting reduces lung capacity because the position causes the lungs to get compressed, reducing their size. Therefore, sit up straight to improve your lung capacity quickly. Maintaining correct posture may also alleviate symptoms of back discomfort. 

Improve the air quality in your home.

Air pollution can’t be avoided if you live in a metropolis. Even exposure to polluted air for a short period might harm your lungs. However, there are things you can do to enhance the quality of the air in your own house. Keeping it clean will help eliminate dust; depending on the species, having houseplants could help keep the air fresh. Keeping it clean will also help get rid of dust. Make sure to throw open the windows on days when the pollution outside is low. 

Can you increase lung capacity with breathing exercises?

In individuals with no underlying lung diseases, performing breathing exercises such as diaphragmatic breathing and other types of breathing exercises can assist in maintaining or even improving their maximum lung capacity. In addition, increasing one’s level of physical activity can also assist in keeping one’s lung function intact. 

What is the best breathing exercise to increase lung capacity?

An effective breathing exercise that focuses on your diaphragm, a muscle that helps expand your lungs and aids in the efficient exchange of oxygen, diaphragmatic breathing, sometimes known as “belly breathing”, is also known as diaphragmatic breathing. 

How long does it take to increase lung capacity?

In most cases, it takes many weeks of consistently performing breathing exercises or increasing physical activity before one notices an improvement in their symptoms. On the other hand, some people might get effects sooner than others. 

What are the symptoms of low lung capacity?

A limited lung capacity can cause various symptoms, including weariness, trouble breathing, and shortness of breath. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you must consult a medical professional to determine whether they result from an underlying disease. 

Tips for keeping your lungs healthy

The best form of treatment is prevention. Putting forth the effort to maintain good lung health can be an effective approach to staving off potential future issues. The following are some suggestions that can help you maintain healthy lungs:

  • If you are a smoker, you should consider quitting and avoid secondhand smoke and other environmental irritants.
  • Consume foods that are both fibre and rich in antioxidants, such as foods found in trusted sources.
  • Get vaccinated, especially against respiratory illnesses like the flu and pneumonia. It can assist in the prevention of lung infections and the promotion of healthy lungs.
  • Increase the frequency of your exercise, improving your lungs’ ability to operate.
  • Enhance the quality of the air within. Reduce the amount of dust, mould, and artificial smells in the air by using air purification products like air filters in your home.


Age, obesity, certain health disorders, and leading a sedentary lifestyle are all factors that might contribute to a decline in one’s lung capacity. Nevertheless, there are a lot of things you can do to maintain the health of your lungs.

Your lungs can be kept in the best possible working condition by avoiding cigarette smoking, engaging in regular physical activity, and eating a balanced diet. It is vital to consult a medical professional if you are suffering symptoms of limited lung capacity, such as shortness of breath, to determine whether or not an underlying illness causes these symptoms.

A person’s lung function can be improved by practising lung exercises such as belly breathing and the pursed lip breathing technique.

However, before beginning any new form of exercise, including breathing exercises, it is important to get clearance from a medical professional. It is especially the case for individuals already struggling with underlying health conditions, such as COPD.

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