The heart and the lungs work in tandem; the strength of one is dependent upon the success of the other. For example, if your breathing is shallow because your lungs are not able to keep up with the demand placed on them, your heart will be working extra hard to compensate. Improving the strength of both the heart and lungs will allow for easier breathing, better circulation of blood and, since blood circulation keeps joints and muscles in top condition, will lessen the chance of injury while working out.
Maintain a healthy weight. Excess body fat can press against the lungs and significantly lower their functionality. Knowing which foods to select will make a dramatic difference in your intake choices.
Eat plants and seafood. To keep your heart strong, it’s recommended that you consume at least 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Adding seafood, which is low in saturated fat and full of omega-3s, will result in a combination that will help reduce the amount of plaque that can build in your arteries.
Eat an ounce of almonds every day to keep your arteries clear and blood moving through your system.
Lower your cholesterol with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Exercise elevates your good cholesterol, which subsequently decreases your bad cholesterol. When the bad cholesterol accumulates, fat begins to build up in the arteries. Over time, the blood to and from your heart will be slowed until it ultimately comes to a complete stop.
Relax and de-stress. When you focus on taking long, deep breaths, the body moves into a state of relaxation. Stress contributes to a myriad of problems, including heart disease, which is the No. 1 cause of death in men and women alike.
Regular aerobic exercise is key to heart and lung health. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week (see References 3).
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Heart Disease Facts
- Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity
- American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults
- National Institute of Health: High Blood Cholesterol: What You Need To Know
- Health Guidance: What Are the Causes of Heavy Breathing?
- Mayo Clinic: Stress: Constant stress puts your health at risk
- Big changes start with small steps. If you are sedentary, start walking for 10 minutes per day and build up.
- A nutritionist or personal trainer can help guide you safely down the road to better health.
- Consult with your medical professional before making drastic changes to your diet or exercise routine.
Ari Reid has a bachelor's degree in biology (behavior) and a master's in wildlife ecology. When Reid is not training to run marathons, she is operating a non-profit animal rescue organization. Reid has been writing web content for science, health and fitness blogs since 2008.