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Both healthy people and those with lung conditions experience a better quality of life when they exercise. Aerobic exercise, including running, can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight, boost your heart health and reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases, like diabetes, while also keeping the lungs healthy.
Changes in Breathing While Running
The heart and lungs come into action while running. The lungs supply oxygen to the body, an element needed for cell growth and energy. When oxygen is processed by the body, carbon dioxide forms. This waste gas is expelled from the body when the lungs exhale. The heart delivers oxygen to the muscles. The muscles work harder during exercise, like running, requiring the body to use more oxygen and therefore create more carbon dioxide. To meet this increased demand, your breathing rate must increase to about 40 to 60 breaths per minute, up from about 15 times when at rest. During repetitive aerobic exercises, such as running, the oxygen requirements of the major muscle groups increase. This increases the lung's oxygen capacity and strengthens the muscles of the lungs.
Running and Aerobic Capacity
Aerobic capacity is used to measure the health and capabilities of the entire cardio-respiratory system, including the blood vessels, heart and lungs. Your aerobic capacity is the amount of oxygen used by the muscles during exercise. A higher aerobic capacity indicates a higher level of aerobic fitness and people with high aerobic capacities can run faster and longer than others. Running regularly can increase your lung functioning and aerobic capacity.
Running and Asthma
People who have asthma can also benefit from aerobic exercise, including running. A recent study published in the "American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine" confirmed that 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, like running, done three times a week can improve asthma control significantly. Although asthma may be triggered by exercise for some people, others who have their condition in control can use running to improve overall lung health and strengthen the breathing muscles.
A Running Schedule to Improve Respiratory Health
Although the amount of running needed to improve respiratory health depends on a person's weight, age and overall health, aerobic activities should be done at least three to five days a week. While running, 60 to 85 percent of the maximum heart rate should be maintained for 20 to 60 minutes for maximum respiratory benefits.