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Waiting to Exhale

I walk outdoors almost every day. And now I have begun to run, for the first time in my life, and I am wondering what that is all about.

Not that I am running for great distances, mind you. What I have been doing is walking for a while, warming up, then starting to jog, and then breaking into a sprint, until I can’t anymore, and I resume walking.

I do this several times while I am out walking and here is what I know. This really gets my heartrate up quicker than any cardio workouts I have been doing. And it is affecting my body shape; I am noticing a whittling of my middle girth and that is a good thing. It also shortens the amount of time it takes me to do my daily steps, which is also good since it is starting to get darker earlier now.

I don’t know why I started to do this. Maybe is was just boredom? Or maybe it was a challenge to do something I just don’t do, to see if I could? Or maybe on some level I wanted to improve my lung capacity?

Let’s talk about the lungs. This respiratory organ is the one most affected by COVID-19 and as we get age they are (just like everything else) not working to capacity. And that is why older people suffer more from the virus than others, as the lungs lose flexibility and strength. This also applies to smokers, so if ever there is a time to quit, it is here – now.

Lung capacity can also be affected by a sedentary lifestyle, which also corresponds with metabolic syndrome, a predisposition that can impact how the virus may affect you.

We can take steps now that will help us strengthen our lung function and help us improve our breathing capacity.

One of the first things is exercise. When we workout and raise our heartrate, we are also relying on our lungs to increase the oxygen capacity to our muscles. We need to get our heartrate up and our breathing hard, to affect this increase in lung function.

Another thing you can do to improve your lung capacity is to breathe deeply. Most of us are shallow breathers, not taking good deep breaths throughout our day. If you, like I , meditate or do yoga, you have benefited from taking some deep breaths to center yourself at the beginning of your meditation or at the end of your yoga session. Doing this only 2-5 minutes per day increases your lungs’ efficiency. If you want to give this a try, breathe in, to the count of 4, and then breathe out twice as long, to the count of 8. Do this at least three times and see if you notice a difference.

I bet you also find yourself feeling calmer, too! Use this breath practice at any time during the day that you feel stress, and I guarantee you will feel more relaxed and tranquil.

And try to avoid toxins in the air, which stress your lungs. These toxins can be from second-hand smoke, common household cleaners and even scented candles and sprays. Make your home a smoke-free zone, use natural cleansing products, such as vinegar, baking soda and lemons. I have a recipe below for a scented all-purpose cleaner. And did you know that you can clean the inside surface of your microwave easily with two lemon halves?

Scented All-Purpose Cleaner

What you'll need:

  • One part white vinegar

  • One part water

  • Lemon rind

  • Rosemary sprigs

Combine the above ingredients together, pour into a spray bottle, shake, and then let infuse for a week before using. Once done, you can use the natural solution to remove hard water stains, clean trash cans, wipe away wall smudges, and much more. Besides a fresh scent, the lemon rind may help boost cleaning power. Caution: Do not use acidic cleaners on granite, as they will etch the stone.

If you like scents in your home try natural oils, in diffusers. There are great combinations to try, with orange and peppermint making you feel more energetic, while lavender is more soothing. If you are working in a home office, rosemary is great for focus, bergamot is uplifting and lemongrass is invigorating.

If you are exercising outside, make sure you are away from heavy road traffic and avoiding fumes. Try to get out into the parks and green areas in your neighborhood for the added benefit of being in nature.

I hope this helps you feel gratitude for your lungs, and what an amazing job they do for you each and every day, and treat them with respect, kindness and support.

Best in health,

Coach Michelle

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