The Connection Between Aging, Exercise, and Healthy Lungs

Sunrise Senior Living  |  January 29, 2020

Enjoying a long and healthy retirement requires taking good care of yourself. While many people focus on living a heart-smart lifestyle, taking proactive steps to maintain healthy lungs is essential, too. As we age, the lungs become weaker and less flexible. This can contribute to a variety of diseases and chronic health conditions.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, lung-related illnesses are the 3rd leading cause of death in this country. That includes lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and asthma—adding up to nearly 235,000 deaths a year.

Here are a few tips you can use to keep your lungs healthy:

  • Stop smoking. Talk with your primary care physician about smoking cessation programs.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke. Research shows it can be just as deadly as being a smoker.
  • Stay away from harsh chemicals. It’s important to avoid breathing in damaging fumes (e.g., home cleaners and weed killers).
  • Prevent infections. Many infections can lead to conditions like pneumonia and bronchitis but a flu shot and frequent handwashing can help.

Finally, identify several forms of exercise that give your lungs a healthy workout. The more you exercise and work the lungs, the stronger they become.

Exercising for Improved Lung Health

How much and what kind of exercises are good for helping older adults maintain healthy lungs? Experts suggest getting 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 5 days a week is vital.

There are several types of aerobic workouts older adults should consider:

  • Walking
  • Gardening
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Dancing

Even giving your house a good cleaning can help pump up your lung capacity.

Healthy Forms of Seated Exercise to Improve Lung Capacity

Fortunately, seniors who need to exercise from a seated position have options to consider too:

The goal is to make your heart and lungs work harder so the body becomes more efficient at processing oxygen.

As is true of any new form of exercise, talk with your primary care physician before getting started. They can help you determine how many minutes and what types of exercise are appropriate and safe.

Resources and Tools for Seniors and Caregivers

If you are an older adult or a family caregiver, staying connected with the latest news and resources on aging and senior care is essential. We invite you to visit Sunrise: Your Senior Care Resource for quick links to information on nutrition, caregiver support, financing care, and more.

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