Pulmonary success at a time of distress
I woke up the other night wondering what I would do if I was still navigating the helm of my fitness facility Studio Blue? It would be almost impossible for me to give up our intimacy and proximity. How I adored cramming us all in there for the Tough Turkey Workout each year. We (at the Blue) always participated in paramount hygiene. We still have the basics at our disposal today- wipe everything down and leave your shoes at the door! In our home we have amped this up a bit and any clothes that come into contact with over a dozen strangers (i.e. going to the grocery store) we leave those at the door too. We know “it” lives on surfaces for several days but we do not yet know about soft fibers. I am old school when it comes to aerobic activity – just ask Jane Fonda and my knees- but I have learned that ‘anaerobic’ (sprinting) mode in some way-everyday will force your lungs to open the edges of the alveoli. Those are the tiny air sacs at the bottom of the complicated tree branch of the pulmonary pathway. This is a perfect way to speed clean your house-sprinting behind the vacuum cleaner and swiffer.
By now I know most of you are COVID-19 experts. The coronavirus spreads via droplets from coughs, sneezes and exhaled air of individuals who carry the virus (irrespective of if they show symptoms). The following are recommendations to improve pulmonary health, but anyone with specific issues may wish to consult their physician before adopting them. Please note that these suggestions and are not an alternative for good old fashion hand washing.
Aerobic exercise. Before infection aerobic exercise is recommended to strengthen cardiovascular health. Preferably, exercise outdoors or with open windows or otherwise well ventilated areas (easy for me to say I live in sunny Bend, Oregon). In sufficiently warm climates, lengthy walks or even running may improve lung capacity. Jumping jacks, jogging in place, or dancing can be done even in small spaces.
Keep windows open where temperatures allow. It is best for airflows to move outward, allowing any viral particles present in the air to exit the room, rather than you (or someone else) breathing them back in. If the weather in your region is cold, consider opening the window for a set time each day.
Spend time outdoors with comfortable spacing. We might not all have access to trails and mountains but balconies, back yards, and patios, are good locations to be with family. Ensure exhaled viral particles don’t get re-inhaled while binging on your favorite show.
Breathe in through the nose. Breathing through the nose helps clean incoming air, via cilia (small hairs) and mucous membranes, thus creating a shield (or net) against diseases. Nasal breathing also warms and moistens incoming air. A little swab of Vaseline also keeps your cilia moist.
Deep breathing. Deep breathing and exhalation bring fresh air in and can improve lung capacity. We typically breathe in and out only a fraction of our lung’s capacity. Expelling viral particles from the more stagnant areas of the lung may further decrease self-exposure to viral particles. Hence- why you should sprint through the house or to the corner stop sign (if your knees allow!)
For the first time in my life I am about to say the strangest thing: those extra five or ten pounds we all want to lose for spring? Don’t. Adore them; cherish them- they will be the first things to go when you get this virus.
While out sprinting before the sun went down these branches reminded me of our complicated pulmonary system.