Lung Capacity and Exercise: What You Need to Know

Whether you take time to think about them or not, your lungs are consistently doing their thing. 24/7, they’re dutifully taking clean air into the body while eliminating carbon dioxide. But have you ever wondered what happens to your lungs when you exercise? If you’re a dedicated runner, HIIT enthusiast, bodybuilder, pro athlete, Zumba addict or another type of fitness fanatic, understanding what’s happening in your lungs can help you have a better workout.

Lungs and Exercise

At rest and during exercise, your lungs provide you with oxygen and energy. As you work out harder and faster, your breathing becomes more labored. However, for those who’ve built up endurance through consistent exercise, the lungs don’t have to work as hard. But why? As you increase strength, muscles require less oxygen. So, regular aerobic workouts can increase your lung capacity.

Lung capacity, or lung volume, is the amount of air in your lungs at any given time. According to the American Lung Association, the average person can hold about six liters of air in the lungs, the volume of three 2-liter soda bottles. For most devoted athletes, increasing lung capacity is crucial for endurance training.

How to Increase Lung Capacity for Running

Increasing your lung capacity is vital if you’re into short- and long-distance running. When you increase the efficiency of your lungs, you elevate your breathing ability. In turn, you can run faster and for longer distances. Start with a slower, shorter running routine and gradually work your way up to faster speeds and longer distances. If you begin running three times a week, add one additional run every two weeks until you reach five or six days a week. Switch things up by alternating short, fast runs with longer jogs at a moderate pace.

In addition to a regular running routine, Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publishing recommends adding resistance. You might try taking a more challenging route with steeper elevations or holding hand weights during a jog. Upper-body exercises, including ab workouts, chest and shoulder presses and back flys, help you sustain good posture. You might not realize it, but having good posture means you can take full breaths while running. Cross-training can do wonders for a runner’s lung capacity as well, so consider adding in other aerobic workouts, such as HIIT, once or twice a week.

Boneafide Nutrition for Full-Body Endurance

Increasing lung capacity isn’t just for runners. All athletes can apply a “slow and steady” approach while mixing up their workouts to successfully increase lung capacity. And nutritional supplements can help you workout harder and for longer periods of time while you’re working at increasing your lung capacity.  Boneafide Nutrition offers a full range of products to improve your energy and support full-body endurance for the toughest runs and HIIT workouts. Try our pre-workout PUMP and let us know how it helps you achieve your goals. 

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