If you were to win an Academy-like award for “Best Breather,” you’d walk on stage, accept your trophy, and say these words: “I’d like to thank my lungs because without them, none of this would be possible.”
Lungs are the foundation of our foundation - the breath - and while many folks know a thing or two about them, countless people breathe in and out without understanding what’s going on. Thankfully, Bernard has let us take a closer look at his lungs. Thanks Bernard!
How Lungs Work
The short answer is: When we inhale, our lungs inflate and absorb oxygen into the bloodstream. When we exhale, our body releases carbon dioxide.
When I was young, I remember watching some film about a person trapped in a room. The oxygen was running out and everyone was in suspense. I thought, “How can he run out of oxygen? He’s breathing it back out. Can’t he just use the same air forever and ever?”
What I didn't realize is that our body absorbs parts of the oxygen that the body needs, and exhales the parts we don’t. Without fresh oxygen we’re left with a bunch of stuff the body doesn’t need. My eleven-year-old self would have been a little more on edge during that movie had I known this.
The average person breathes in around 11,000 liters of air every day.
The left lung is slightly smaller than the right to make room for your heart.
A living person can actually donate part of their lung to someone in need, although most are deceased.
In 2015 the US performed more than 30,000 lung transplants according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN),
Both lungs weigh a total of about 2.9 lbs. The right lung (larger) is the heavier of the two.
The total length of the airways running through our two lungs is 1,500 miles!
We go to the gym to exercise our body, we go to school to exercise our mind, but when's the last time you said, "I should really exercise my lungs today?" Well, it's never too late to start and you may have been doing some of this stuff all along!
The faster we move the more oxygen we need. More oxygen stretches our lungs to receive the air that’s then distributed into the blood stream. So running, yoga, meditation - anything that requires deep breathing - is an excellent way to strengthen lungs and provide extra oxygen to the body.
While we don't have much control over our external environment, we can make an impact on where we hang our hats. Open windows from time to time so you have fresh air coming through. Eliminate toxic cleaners and sprays by replacing them with natural ones. And make sure your home or apartment has been properly inspected for mold, lead, and any other harmful chemicals. Be aware of pet dander, moldy clothes in your closet, and toxic paint. Air purifiers are a solid investment in any household, especially if you can't eliminate any of the above mentioned.
Please don’t smoke. Whatever you inhale isn’t just going in and out of your lungs. They take that toxic oxygen and distribute it into the bloodstream, which spreads throughout your body. Keep this in mind and if you need help kicking the habit, start here: SmokeFree.Gov
Up for more Bernard's Body Series? Learn about his Brain, Liver, Stomach and Heart next!