How to Run to Clean Your Lungs

Whether or not you've been a smoker, your lungs may need some improving if you haven't led a very physically active lifestyle. Running is one excellent way to make your lungs cleaner, stronger and more efficient, paving the way for great fitness. Here's how running clears lungs.

Running helps increase your lung capacity. (Image: Westend61/Westend61/GettyImages)

Tip

Running, like other types of aerobic exercise, can be beneficial to your lung health by improving your lung capacity and allowing oxygen to be moved more efficiently through your body. You can improve your lung health by jogging several days a week, building up your endurance and running in nature.

Health Benefits of Running

Running has been linked to countless health benefits. Even short, low-intensity running or jogging can have a big impact on your mind and body. An August 2014 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that even just five to 10 minutes of jogging a day was linked to a longer lifespan by several years. Running can also strengthen your bones and muscles, improve your cardiovascular health and burn calories, assisting in weight loss.

When you run, your heart and lungs are the main organs fueling your body. Your lungs bring oxygen into your body to provide you with energy and clear out carbon dioxide, and your heart sends oxygen to your muscles to keep them working. When you work out harder, your body requires more oxygen to get rid of carbon dioxide, making you inhale and exhale faster. By exercising moderately five days a week, and especially by starting a running routine, you can improve your lung capacity, reduce your feelings of shortness of breath and build your endurance.

Build Up Stamina

If you want to start running and experience the benefits of increased lung capacity, you have to begin somewhere. Most beginner runners will need to start out small, jogging at a slow and steady pace for five to 10 minutes a day until they can build up further. If you haven't been working out regularly, it may take you a few weeks to build up to longer and faster runs.

You should start out with 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week, and aim to be moderately out of breath. If you're a beginner runner, you can walk briskly for the first few weeks, then build up to jogging. This will get your lungs warmed up and begin increasing your lung capacity.

While exercise doesn't necessarily make your lungs bigger, it does help them take in more oxygen with each breath, according to Harvard Health. Running also helps your lungs work more efficiently along with the heart to bring blood and oxygen to your working muscles. Once you've built up your stamina, you'll be able to run for longer periods of time with a more steady and efficient breath.

Clear Lungs in Nature

Running clears lungs, no matter how or where you're doing it. But sometimes your environment can have an impact on your lung health while exercising as well.

According to a May 2019 article published by The Lancet, air pollution can have a significant impact on lung health, contributing to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and other respiratory diseases. It goes without saying that consistent exposure to air pollution when running may be harmful to your lung health despite the aerobic benefits.

That's why you may want to take your running shoes and get out in nature. Try out a wooded trail or a park outside the city and see how you feel. If you don't have access to nature preserves or wooded trails, you may want to stick to indoor treadmills on particularly hot, smoggy days.

You can also work to keep your lungs clean by avoiding exposure to too much car exhaust, allergens or indoor dust. Eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of vitamins that are beneficial to your lung health. Finally, to maximize your lung health and truly allow running to clear your lungs, quit the habits that may be detrimental to your lungs and heart, like smoking cigarettes or vaping.

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