5 Physical Activities for Increasing Your Lung Capacity

Posted March 9, 2023 by in Health + Fitness

Getting regular physical activity and exercise is one of those habits that become increasingly important through the years. Indeed, it’s important for people of all ages to ensure that they’re taking care of their health through exercise, proper diet, and getting enough sleep. Apart from keeping the body in top physical form, exercising has a way of improving certain functions, especially lung capacity. 

Your lung capacity refers to the amount of air your lungs can handle throughout the respiratory cycle. At maximum, a normal human lung can handle around 6 liters of air—roughly the same amount as three large bottles of soda. As with other bodily functions, lung capacity declines with age or due to certain medical conditions.

Fortunately, there are certain exercises that may help boost the lungs’ maximum threshold. Such activities are especially useful for those with respiratory ailments like asthma, which could be better managed by developing a higher capacity to store air in the lungs. If you or someone you know could use stronger lungs to live life more easily, here are some activities that might help out:

Woman in matching leggings and sports bra running outside


Big fan of the water? Freediving could be the right activity for you. This involves taking a single, large breath and delving into the water without any form of breathing apparatus. You may think this activity is counterproductive to the goal of increasing your lung capacity, but it’s actually good for improving the lungs’ elasticity and respiratory efficiency. Freediving also encourages you to fill up your lungs with as much air as you can. This is essential for improving your respiratory muscle, developing your lung volume, and strengthening your resilience against hypoxia (low oxygen in the blood).

Some experts believe that freediving might even be better than scuba diving for respiratory-challenged individuals because it doesn’t involve breathing compressed air. With freediving, you can take a long breath and resurface from the water whenever you want. Furthermore, there is anecdotal evidence that freediving can improve conditions such as inflammatory arthritis and asthma. That being said, make sure to consult your doctor first and work with a professional to prepare for freediving activities to ensure your health and safety.


Aerobics or aerobic exercise has made big fans over the past decades because of how easy it is to do at home. If putting on Spandex and dancing to your favorite tunes is right up your alley, aerobics could be the lung-strengthening exercise for you. Aerobics combines strength training and stretching with rhythmic exercise, so it plays a significant role in improving your overall fitness. 

Apart from improving endurance and strengthening your heart, aerobics also teaches you to optimize your oxygen intake so that you can breathe more efficiently. In addition to the typical aerobic exercises you’ve been used to, you can opt for similar activities such as stationary biking and brisk walking.


Yoga is another low-intensity activity that could help your respiratory organs function better. In essence, yoga involves plenty of deep breathing exercises, concentration, and physical poses that focus on strength and flexibility. As such, yoga could be beneficial to those who prefer exercises centered on mindfulness, relaxation, and efficient breathing.

If yoga is your cup of tea, you could check out asanas or poses designed to help you properly manage the flow of oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout your body.

High-Elevation Activities

High-altitude areas such as mountains and plateaus are favored by sportsmen for workouts because of the thin air with less oxygen. Having less oxygen in the air trains the lungs to optimize breathing, which aids in improving one’s overall breathing capacity. Some popular high-elevation activities include hiking and cycling, which can be enjoyable for those who love immersing themselves in nature.

With that in mind, you need to remember that your body needs time to adjust to high altitudes. If you’re unprepared for physical activities in high areas, you could experience headaches, fatigue, nausea, and other symptoms of altitude sickness. To prevent your body from being caught off-guard by this drastic change in climate, you can exercise gradually for at least two weeks until your system gets used to the elevation. It might help to have a qualified instructor with you to guide you through high-altitude workouts.

Cardio Exercises

Brisk workouts that revolve around cardiovascular function encompass a wide range of activities, so you have plenty of things to try to discover which one works best for you. As a rule of thumb, cardio exercises should encourage your lungs to work harder to eventually improve their capacity to store large volumes of air. 

Some of the most popular cardio exercises for expanding lung capacity include jogging, running, and swimming. Working out at the gym can also be considered a cardio exercise because of how they revolve around paced movements. The most optimal duration for cardio exercises is around 30 minutes per session.

Fitter Days, Healthier Lungs

As we have already established, exercise is necessary to improve one’s health and quality of life. For those with respiratory issues, exercise could be a lifesaver and prevent their bodies from succumbing to their vulnerabilities. Of course, it’s worth noting that exercise alone is not enough to sustain a healthy lifestyle and keep the lungs functioning optimally. 

If you intend to pursue a more physically active lifestyle to improve lung health, consider making other changes such as cutting back on smoking, getting enough vitamins, breathing fresh air, and keeping your indoor air quality at home within optimal levels. Lastly, make sure that you enjoy the exercises you’re doing so that you can sustain a workout routine that will keep your lungs—and the rest of your body—happy and healthy.