Many of us focus on living a heart-smart lifestyle as we grow older. Because heart disease claims an estimated 647,000 lives in this country each year, it’s easy to understand why. But lung diseases can also impact how long and well we live. As we age, the lungs typically become weaker and less flexible. Lifestyle can impact how much change the lungs undergo.
The Facts about Lung Disease
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 235,000 Americans lose their lives as a result of lung-related illnesses each year. This makes lung disease the 3rd leading cause of death in this country.
There are a variety of conditions that fall under this category, including:
- Lung cancer
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Pulmonary fibrosis
Lifestyle Choices That Impact Lung Health
While not all lung diseases are preventable, your lifestyle does impact some of them. These tips may protect your lungs as you grow older:
- Stop smoking: Most of us know the dangers of smoking, but stopping isn’t always easy. If you are struggling to kick the habit, talk with your primary care physician about smoking cessation programs. There are many newer solutions to try.
- Avoid secondhand smoke: Living with a smoker can be deadly, as can spending time with one. An estimated 41,000 deaths a year are attributed to secondhand smoke. Research shows those exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk for respiratory infections, asthma, and lung cancer.
- Guard against infections: The risk of developing infections that jeopardize older adults, such as the flu and pneumonia, can be lowered by getting vaccinated. The flu shot is an annual vaccine that should be administered in the fall. Medical professionals typically recommend seniors receive two different pneumonia vaccines given six to twelve months apart.
- Watch what you breathe: A lesser understood cause of lung problems is breathing harsh chemicals. Protect yourself by steering clear of household cleaners, weed killers, and paints that contain strong chemicals. Wear a mask or respirator when you can’t avoid exposure.
Finally, exercise on a regular basis. It’s one of the best ways to keep your lungs healthy.
Senior-Friendly Exercises to Promote Lung Health
Experts say 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 5 days a week is best for healthy lungs.
If you’ve been leading a sedentary lifestyle, a few forms of aerobic exercise to talk with your primary care physician about include:
- Walking indoors or on a treadmill
- Cycling on a bicycle or recumbent bike
- Swimming or a swim aerobics class
- Low-impact aerobics or dance class
If a mobility challenge requires you to exercise from a seated position, there are many options:
- Body Recall YouTube video
- 20 Minute Chair Exercise video
- Silver Sneaker’s 15-Minute Total-Body Chair Workout
- Seated elliptical machine
- Bike pedal exerciser
The goal of exercise is to make your heart and lungs work harder. That allows them to process oxygen more efficiently.
As is true of any new form of exercise, seek the approval of your primary care physician before starting. They can help you set goals for the best types and durations of exercise.
Healthy Living at Five Star
At Five Star Senior Living, we take a holistic approach to healthy living. We offer activities and events each day designed to nurture the body, mind, and spirit. We call it Lifestyle360. Call us at (853) 457-8271 to learn more and schedule a tour of the Five Star community nearest you today!