senior man lifting weights

After about the age of 35, your lung health begins to slowly decline. With age, your breathing can gradually become more difficult as your air capacity decreases. As a result of the gradual changes in muscle, lung tissue, and the nervous system brought on by aging, older people are at greater risk for lung infections, shortness of breath, and abnormal breathing patterns. Fortunately, there are a few easy ways to improve lung capacity and reduce your risk for lung disease.

Don’t Smoke

Perhaps this goes without saying, but smoking causes extensive damage to your lungs. According to the American Lung Association, “cigarette smoking is the major cause of lung disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).” Smoking causes inflammation, which eventually leads to bronchitis. Smoking also closes your air passages, which makes it harder to breathe. Cigarette smoking destroys lung tissue, which may eventually lead to lung cancer. No matter your age, your lungs and body will benefit from quitting smoking.

Deep Breathing

Lungs act like screen doors, filtering oxygen to your body and removing waste gas back out of your body. Over time, however, this filtering system can deteriorate, and for those with asthma or COPD, your lungs will begin to trap stale air, leaving less room for fresh oxygen. Deep breathing exercises help train the body to admit more oxygen and help rid your lungs of trapped stale air, increasing their oxygen levels.


Aerobic exercise improves lung capacity. As you exercise, your lungs get practice expanding and accepting more oxygen, which not only leads to healthier lungs but also to a healthier heart. The better your cardiorespiratory exercise, the better your body will be at sending oxygen to your heart and muscles, which is key for preventing lung disease.

Avoid Pollutants

Pollutants in the air, like secondhand smoke, air pollution, chemicals, and radon, all cause damage to your lungs. To prevent this damage, start by making sure your home and car are smoke and radon free. Talk with a professional about any chemicals or pollutants that you think may be harmful, and avoid exercising or spending too much time outdoors during bad air days.

When your lungs are healthy, breathing is an afterthought; however, when your lungs are sick or damaged, you have to struggle for each breath. While you can’t prevent every form of lung damage, you can control many of the elements that influence your lung health. By applying these simple steps, you can improve your current health and prevent future problems.