Your breathing is an essential activity your body does for you and it is your job to maintain you health to ensure your breathing can continue for years down the line. The problem people experience today is impaired breathing due to a number of factors. Even if you are not a smoker, you might be surrounded by other people who smoke.
Even if you choose to walk or ride your bike to work, there are thousands of other people polluting the air with their car exhaust while they commute.
Avoiding tainted air quality is difficult but luckily there are steps you can take to improve your breathing in a metro city or busy hub like New York City, Los Angeles or Chicago.
Before we dive into the air quality and breathing exercises, the importance of a good cardiovascular health needs to be stressed when talking about breathing.
According to the American Heart Association, only one in five adults and teens get enough exercise to maintain a good health. The American Heart Association recommends the average person to get roughly 150 minutes of exercise per week. It is important to make sure you pay attention to getting active and finding ways to get your body in motion. Walking, running, swimming, riding a bicycle, even kayaking or paddle boarding can be beneficial to your cardiovascular health.
Stop smoking to reduce health risks
If you are a smoker and notice you are having trouble with your breathing, it is your best decision to quit as soon as possible. Quitting smoking is one of the hardest and most difficult thing a person can do, but it comes with so many benefits for a persons’ health. Smoking has a major negative effect on your vessels which restrict the oxygen flowing to your heart and the rest of your body. In addition to hindering oxygen supply in your blood flow, smoking also contributes to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis occurs when there is narrowing and clogging of the arteries which reduces blood supply, and the amount of oxygen available, throughout the body.
According to the Heart Foundation, Smoking increases the risk of:
- Heart attack – 2x higher
- Stroke – 3x higher
- Angina – 20x higher
- Peripheral Arterial Disease – 5x higher
If you smoke, you are:
Four times more likely to die of heart disease (i.e. heart attack and stroke) and three times more likely to die from sudden cardiac death. It is evident that smoking causing poor health and negatively impacts people’s lives. Quitting smoking can deliver many different positive lifestyle benefits to a person and directly contribute to a healthier life.
Taking small steps to practice breathing is super helpful. Deep breathes with quiet surroundings can help you meditate and ground yourself to feel more in control of your body.
The University of Michigan Medicine recommends practicing some basic breathing exercises like belly breathing. Belly breathing is easy to do and very relaxing. You can either sit down or lie flat in a comfortable position to try this breathing exercise.
- Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position.
- Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move.
- Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. Feel the hand on your belly go in, and use it to push all the air out.
- Do this breathing 3 to 10 times. Take your time with each breath.
- Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.
Breathing exercise will stimulate your senses, increase blood flow to your heart and entire body and deliver more oxygen in the process. Some of the best places to practice breathing exercises are outdoors in the mountains where you are isolated from heavily trafficked areas with cars and factory exhaust. The cleaner, better quality air is noticeably more satisfying for your lungs. Although you cannot live in the great outdoors to breathe in the crisp fresh air at all times, you can take a few steps to bring the fresh air inside your house with air quality control systems.
Another breathing exercise is Pursed Lip Breathing. This breathing exercise reduces the number of breaths you take, keeping your airways open longer. Doing this allows more air to flow in and out of your lungs, enabling you to increase your heart rate and become physically active. You are able to practice this exercise by relaxing and inhaling through your nose, exhaling roughly twice as long through your mouth.
Air pollution and air quality
Finding clean air is becoming a hard thing to do these days. With air pollution at an all time high, it is important to find different solutions to cleaning the air that you breathe regularly. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, there are several causes of both indoor and outdoor air pollutants.
Outdoor air pollution involves exposures that take place outside of the built environment. Examples include:
- Fine particles produced by the burning of fossil fuels (i.e. the coal and petroleum used in energy production)
- Noxious gases (sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, chemical vapors, etc.)
- Ground-level ozone (a reactive form of oxygen and a primary component of urban smog)
- Tobacco Smoke
Indoor air pollution involves exposures to particulates, carbon oxides, and other pollutants carried by indoor air or dust. Examples include:
- Gases (carbon monoxide, radon, etc.)
- Household products and chemicals
- Building materials (asbestos, formaldehyde, lead, etc.)
- Outdoor indoor allergens (cockroach and mouse dropping, etc.)
- Tobacco smoke
- Mold and pollen
In some instances, outdoor air pollution can make its way indoors by way of open windows, doors, ventilation, etc.
While there are many impurities floating inside your household and office workspace, there are tools you can use to help improve your air quality. Air purifiers are used by a wide variety of people to help remove any impurities including dust, hair, odors and dirty particles within your breathing air. Air purifiers help deliver a handful of benefits as they don’t just clean your air, but they continue to maintain the air. They help improve air quality and help you breathe easier with extra benefits for those with sensitive noses or allergies caused from dust or pets.
Allergens in the air are usually harmless substances, but can trigger allergic reactions for certain people which can cause Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever). According to the National Allergy & ENT, people with rhinitis are prone to symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, congestion and sinus pressure. Rhinitis can contribute to other problems such as asthma, sinus or ear conditions or trouble sleeping.
Air purifiers can help clean the air to avoid allergic reactions and improve sleep at night as a result of cleaner air. Maintaining the quality of the air inside your house and workplace can deliver benefits day and night. There are a few good options when it comes to air purifiers for your home and workplace. Air purifiers can clean your breathing air and help improve your overall health. The Blue Pure 411 Air Purifier 3 Stage is a great at-home solution for pet owners or smokers or anyone who wants cleaner air. The Blue Pure 411 has activated carbon filters which remove common odors caused by smoke, pets, cooking, and gases. It also has washable pre-filter to capture large particles such as dust and pet hair.
A step up to the Blue Pure 411 Air Purifier, meant for a larger room is the Dyson Pure Cool, TP01 HEPA. The Dyson model has a HEPA filter that removes 99. 97 percent of allergens and pollutants as small as 0. 3 microns including pollen, dust, mold spores, bacteria and pet dander.
- Air purifier with two washable pre-filters, captures allergens, odors, smoke, mold and dust.
- Air purifier & fan, removes allergens, pollutants, dust and mold. Good for large rooms.
Portable oxygen machines
For some people, their breathing has become a struggle and require assistance from portable oxygen support machines. These machines enable people to take-in pure oxygen from a compressed tank to enhance their breathing on the go. Portable oxygen machines deliver benefits to both athletes and people who have a hard time breathing. Athletes use portable oxygen tanks after strenuous, high intensity movements that cause their heart rates to spike. As the heart rate jumps, the heart pumps faster to supply the body with oxygen-rich blood. Portable oxygen machines are helpful to replenish oxygen levels and refuel the body.