Blowing up a balloon can do wonders for your lungs. As you age, and particularly if you have a lung condition such as pulmonary fibrosis, COPD or asthma, making sure that you have sufficient lung capacity is important. This lung exercise assists patients by allowing the lungs to expand with enough oxygen to meet the body’s needs. Blowing a balloon is an exercise you can do in your own home to improve your lung capacity. Keep in mind that your lung capacity can be affected by certain conditions such as age, gender, size, and medical conditions.
The Balloon Exercise
You can practice this simple exercise by blowing up a certain number of balloons each day. Blowing balloons works out the intercostals muscles that are responsible for spreading and elevating your diaphragm and ribcage. This allows your lungs to take in oxygen during inhalation and expel carbon dioxide as you exhale.
Blowing up balloons, while effectively exercising the lungs’ ability to expand and take in air, does not affect the size or number of alveoli contained in the lungs. Alveoli are air sacs through which oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange happens with the blood.
The Benefits of Blowing Up Balloons
The more oxygen you supply to the body during exercise, the longer you will last without becoming breathless and fatigued. Oxygen restores energy to cells and muscles by breaking down glucose and creating fuel for muscles. When plenty of oxygen is available, your muscles will equip themselves with more energy reserves that will increase your lung endurance. Committing to a daily routine of blowing up 10 or 20 balloons will steadily increase lung capacity and will also amplify the lungs’ ability to maintain a sufficient supply of oxygen over time. Start with a few a day and then build up to more.
Blowing up Balloons and your Respiratory Muscles
Blowing up balloons exercises your respiratory muscles- a group of muscles that contribute to inhalation and exhalation by aiding in the expansion and contraction of the chest. Basic respiratory muscles are the diaphragm, the internal intercostal and the external intercostal. Accessory muscles, or muscles that contribute to lifting your ribcage so that lungs can expand and take in air, are frequently used during vigorous physical activity. When you steadily blow up several balloons, it effectively exercises all these muscles, building your lung capacity and stamina.
People with healthy lungs may not have any problems blowing up balloons. However, people with impaired lung function and capacity, such as those with pulmonary fibrosis may feel lightheaded or dizzy while blowing balloons. This effect will likely go away once you stop blowing. As your lung capacity increases, these sensations should reduce and may eventually disappear.
Here’s a link if you’d like to try out another breathing exercise: https://pulmonaryfibrosisnow.org/learn/exercise-your-lungs-2/
Here are some breathing challenges for you to try: https://pulmonaryfibrosisnow.org/challenge/
Many people who enjoy breathing exercises, also find meditation helpful: https://pulmonaryfibrosisnow.org/2021/04/26/guided-meditations-to-help-with-pain/