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  • Writer's pictureAdrian Cox

Want to know how long you'll live? Look at your lungs

Long term clinical study shows that lung strength is the single best predictor of longevity

One reason among many, to begin a regular breathwork practice is a longer life. Really. The stronger lungs you have, the longer you will live. There is scientific proof now which reinforces what has been taught in the yoga traditions for at least a 1,000 years: the more you can breathe, the longer you will live. The research came from the Framingham Heart Study, a long-term, ongoing cardiovascular cohort study which began in 1948 with 5,209 adult subjects over 18 years. They study the effects of diet, exercise and medications and the epidemiology of cardiovascular disease. What they discovered was that the greatest predictor of health and longevity is lung volume. Lung volume is measured by the 'Forced Vital Capacity' (FVC)- a measurement of how much air you can forcefully exhale after taking a deep breath. This number is more important to determine how much longer you will live than knowing how you eat, how much you exercise or how much you weigh. When the exhales started getting weak and the lungs started getting smaller, the researchers observed again and again that congestive heart failure was soon to follow. A similar study at Buffalo Health used 1,000 participants over 29 years and came to the same conclusions: that those with higher lung capacity are healthier and live longer. According to the researchers, "our ability to breathe fully is an indicator of general health and vigor and literally a measure of living capacity” Unless you work to change, your lung capacity declines over time in the same way that everything starts to go. By the time you reach 80, the average is that you will have lost 30% of your lung capacity. That can mean that you will not only have to be breathing harder and faster, but also look forward to

  • anxiety and weakened immunity.

  • increased inflammation

  • lowered stamina and endurance

  • impaired metabolic and digestive function

  • a decline in general focus, concentration and memory

  • and of course, death from heart disease

The medical view used to be that you could do nothing about this progressive decline. However, now we know that you do have the power to keep the lungs strong, if you exercise them. By working with your body, it changes. Internal organs, including the lungs are malleable and with a practice, we can change them at nearly any time. This is of course, what yoga has been pointing to for a thousand years or more. When you pick up breath practices such as Connected Breathwork or yogic pranayama you can dramatically strengthen your lung capacity- and your life force energy!

  1. Breathe through your nose! The nose (as opposed to the mouth) puts extra resistance on the airway which strengthens the lungs.

  2. Get a breath trainer and start using it everyday. Read more about the use of breathing trainers and the research here

  3. Go for a walk or a bicycle ride. Even light exercise can increase lung capacity by up to 15%

  4. Practice BreathYoga which is designed to help you correct breathing patterns using yoga.


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