4 Ways to Keep Lungs Healthy
Many of us take our overall lung health for granted. Breathing occurs naturally without thought, so we don’t tend to reflect on the dangers our lungs may be facing every day. From smoking to indoor contaminants, we may be exposing our bodies to serious toxins without even realising. And since lung cancer is the fifth most common cancer in Ireland (with over 2,700 people diagnosed each year) keeping our lungs strong is vital for our overall health and wellbeing. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make sure your lungs are healthy now, and into the future.
1 Stop Smoking
Alarmingly, smoking causes about 9 out of every 10 lung cancers. Given that shocking statistic, quitting is always a good idea, no matter how long you’ve been a smoker. Jim McCreadie is a therapist with the Allen Carr programme. “Smoking cigarettes”, he says, “is like waking up in the morning, putting on a pair of shoes a couple of sizes too small, just so that after an hour you can take them off and say - ‘ah, that’s better’”. He notes that once smokers realise cigarettes are the cause of their stress, or that withdrawal from nicotine is actually very slight, they understand they have the power to stop whenever they like. Find out more here.
2 Exercise Regularly
Keeping physically active helps ensure that the heart and lungs stay healthy, as they need to work harder to supply oxygen all around the body. Aim for 30 minutes of moderately intense activity, five times a week. This can be as simple as a brisk walk with a friend, or, if you fancy a challenge, a 5km or 10km run. Check out the options on the Irish Life MyLife app, where you work out at a time that suits you.
3 Be Mindful of Environmental Toxins & Irritants
Dust, allergens and mould can commonly be found in daily life, and all affect breathing. Regular cleaning, air filters and watching for signs of water damage are all simple steps you can take to limit the impact of these irritants. For example, radon is an odourless, colourless gas that can seep into buildings through the foundation. Asbestos meanwhile is a naturally occurring mineral fibre that was used primarily in construction from the 1920s to 1970s. While its use has been banned, it can still be present in existing buildings. Contact a licensed professional to discuss testing, if you think that there may be a radon or asbestos issue in your home.
4 Stay Vigilant
It’s also important to note that if a close family member (parent, brother or sister) has had cancer which started in their lung, your risk is doubled. If you’ve had a persistent cough, are coughing up phlegm or blood, experience a tightness in your chest or suffer from shortness of breath, it might be worth speaking to your doctor.
Simple steps like these and improved awareness can help keep lungs and homes healthy for many years to come. We rely on our lungs more than we sometimes even realise, and it’s up to us to better educate ourselves about how to keep them in top shape. With just a little effort, we can all breathe easily knowing our lungs are safe and healthy.
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