Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Are there any breathing techniques that will increase my lung capacity?"
When I exercise I feel like I get out of breath way to easily. Is there any way to make my lung capacity go up? Do I just need to keep exercising and then my breathing will get better?
Total Lung Capacity (TLC) is defined as the volume within the lungs at maximal inflation. The average total lung capacity in an adult male is approximately 6L. In reality however, the majority of this volume is not used with regular breathing. A small percentage of the maximal volume of the lungs is used during normal respirations (called tidal volume). There is nothing that can be done to actually change the total lung capacity in any given individual. In general, males have larger TLC than females, and taller people also have larger TLCs. Interestingly, people who are born and live at higher elevations can also have a larger TLC. Since TLC cannot be changed, other factors must be modified to improve breathing. With a lot of exercising, the actual consumption of oxygen can decrease, as can the bodies ability to efficiently handle oxygen. Some people can have reactive airway disease which can decrease the efficiency of air exchange during breathing. Asthma is one disease process that might decrease the efficiency of breathing in this way. If your breathing is significantly worse than it used to be, I recommend that you make an appointment to get a thorough physical exam from your primary care physician and discuss with them your issue. They will do a thorough work-up and clear you for exercise if they think you are fit. They may order PFTs (pulmonary function tests) as part of your work-up. Hopefully this answers your question. Best of luck.
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