One of the best things you can do for your lungs (besides keeping them smoke-free)? Strike a pose. Practicing yoga regularly may help boost your lung function and capacity, according to a new study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
Researchers from Texas State University at San Marcos gathered 57 studies from four databases (the Alternative Health Watch, Physical Education Index, Medline, and SPORTdiscus), looking for ones that included the keywords Ã¢â‚¬Å“yoga,Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“respiration,Ã¢â‚¬Â and Ã¢â‚¬Å“pulmonary function.Ã¢â‚¬Â Of those 57, researchers found nine studies that focused on pulmonary function in 609 individuals with healthy lungs. These studies measured how much a person can exhale in one second (something called forced expiratory volume, or FEV1) to determine lung health. After examining all nine studies, researchers found that all but one experiment indicated yoga was associated with better overall lung function. This was true even if the specific yoga techniques practicedÃ¢â‚¬“breathing, meditation, poses, etc.Ã¢â‚¬“varied in each study.
You might not realize it, but your lungs are like muscles in that they need to be exercised. Otherwise, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll become rigid, which forces you to take shorter breaths and can increase your risk of lung disease. Yoga requires you to breathe deeply to fully expand your lungs, which makes them more flexible and increases their ability to take in more air.
For improved pulmonary functions, researchers suggest practicing yoga for a minimum of two days a week, one hour each day. You should experience improved lung function in about 10 weeks. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s important that we inhale and exhale so that we keep our lungs functioning properly,Ã¢â‚¬Â says lead study author Allison Abel, assistant director of total wellness at from Texas State University at San Marcos. This will help prevent problems such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis.
Better breathing isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the only benefit youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll get from practicing yogaÃ¢â‚¬“itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also a great way to fry fat, ease aches and pains, and make you feel more Zen. Whether youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re looking for an easy energy boost or want to build a leaner body, these yoga routines will keep your entire body fitÃ¢â‚¬“lungs and all.
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