5 Straightforward cardio exercises to improve lung function

Engaging in cardio exercises not only enhances physical strength but also improves lung function.

5 Straightforward cardio exercises to improve lung function

Cardio workouts, also known as aerobic exercises, derive their name from “aerobic,” which means “with oxygen.” Breathing regulates the amount of oxygen reaching the muscles, aiding in their ability to burn fuel and facilitate movement. These rhythmic activities engage large muscle groups, elevating heart rate during the workout. Rahul Basak, a Fitness expert at Cult.fit, shares five simple cardio workouts that enhance lung function.

According to various experts and health associations, it’s recommended to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week. This translates to 20 to 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week.

These workouts offer numerous benefits beyond weight management, such as improving lifestyle disorders like high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, and enhancing bone health. Additionally, they aid in improving lung function. Regular aerobic exercise can reduce the frequency of breathing, improve exercise capacity, and alleviate fatigue and shortness of breath associated with chronic lung problems.

1. Breathing exercises

These are three effective breathing exercises that can improve lung function and overall respiratory health:

Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing or abdominal breathing, focuses on fully utilizing the lower part of the lungs. By consciously filling the lungs to their maximum capacity, this technique enhances oxygen uptake.

Alternate nostril breathing is a pranayama technique practiced in Hatha Yoga. This exercise aids in clearing the nasal passages and strengthening respiratory muscles.

The humming exercise increases nitric oxide in the body, acting as a vasodilator. This helps facilitate easier blood flow through the vessels and prevents muscle tightening.

2. Brisk Walking

Brisk walking typically involves walking at a moderately quick pace, typically around 5-6 km/hr. This faster pace puts more strain on the body’s muscles, providing a light aerobic workout while allowing the walker to cover a considerable distance swiftly. Regular brisk walking can contribute to improved endurance. While it may leave you feeling slightly out of breath, you should still be able to speak comfortably.

 Brisk Walking

3. Jogging or Running

When you first start running, it’s common to quickly feel out of breath. However, with time and practice, running becomes easier as your lungs become more efficient in delivering oxygen to the bloodstream and removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from your body. Running improves the endurance capacity of your respiratory muscles, such as the diaphragm and intercostal muscles, allowing for deeper and more efficient breaths.

Additionally, running helps increase the number of capillaries in your lungs, enabling quicker oxygen delivery to your muscles. As you continue to run, you develop more alveoli, which transfer oxygen into the capillaries. This process enhances your body’s ability to utilize oxygen during exercise.

4. Swimming


Swimming is highly beneficial for increasing lung capacity and endurance. It enhances breath-holding capacity, as swimmers must time their breaths according to their stroke. This adaptation to longer breath-holding intervals can significantly improve breath endurance over time. Swimming has been shown to reduce symptoms of asthma, including both the frequency and severity of asthma attacks. By enhancing air capacity and endurance, swimming helps alleviate troublesome asthma symptoms.

Moreover, the warm and humid air commonly found in indoor pools is advantageous for maintaining flexible lungs and open airways. This environment promotes better respiratory health and can provide relief for individuals with respiratory conditions like asthma.

5. Jump Rope

Jumping rope, while requiring some practice to master, can lead to heavy breathing, which, when done consistently over time, can result in significant increases in lung capacity. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science found that participants who jumped rope had significantly larger lung capacities compared to cyclists by the end of the study.