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Just like all the parts under the hood of your car, your body's systems work together to keep you going. If one part is out of whack, it can make for a bumpy ride, or even stall you out. Your lungs are a vital part of your body's engine. Jogging and other aerobic activities can help optimize your lung function to keep you humming along.
How Your Lungs Work
Your lungs are two sack-like organs about the size of footballs. When you inhale, your lungs inflate as your bronchial tubes disperse oxygen into smaller tubes called bronchioles that terminate in tiny sacks called alveoli. At the alveoli, carbon dioxide from deoxygenated blood is exchanged for fresh oxygen, which is then carried to the heart to be pumped to cells throughout your body. When you exhale, carbon dioxide is expired into the atmosphere. Respiration is driven by a sheet of muscle called the diaphragm that causes the rib cage to expand. At rest, you typically repeat the respiratory cycle about 12 to 20 times per minute. During exercise, your respiratory rate increases as your heart rate increases, to between 40 and 60 times per minute.
Exercise and Lung Function
Exercise improves lung function by enhancing the exchange of gasses in the alveoli and elevating the absorption of oxygen into the bloodstream. A 2012 study of healthy sedentary young men published in "Biomedical Research" found that a 16-week jogging program resulted in significant improvements in pulmonary function in terms of the power and effectiveness of inspiration and expiration. The researchers hypothesized that the improvements may have been due to increases in the strength of the respiratory muscles. Other research found athletes to have higher lung function than sedentary populations.
Obesity and Lung Function
Being overweight or obese can interfere with your lung function. Extra body weight can limit the capacity for the diaphragm to contract and the rib cage to expand. A study of older obese men published in the "Journals of Gerontology" found that weight loss in a sedentary group of subjects had a more profound effect on resting lung function than aerobic activity performed by a second set of subjects. However, the dynamic lung function of the active group reflected greater improvements in maximal oxygen uptake during exercise.
Lung Disease and Exercise
Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are permanent lung conditions that can restrict the availability of oxygen at rest and during exercise. The Cleveland Clinic encourages patients with lung disease to engage in regular aerobic exercise like walking, jogging and cycling, noting that aerobic exercise helps improve lung function and enhances your body's ability to use oxygen. They recommend doing a warm-up and cool-down. While exercising, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth with pursed lips to facilitate the transport of oxygen to your body.