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how can i improve lung strength?

HELP!!! Over the years I have been running less and less, now finding myself more winded and lungs hurting. Does anyone know of some exercises to strengthen my lungs or to improve my breathing when running?

5 answers

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Running forces you to breathe more rapidly and forces your lungs to work harder to get oxygen through your body. If you're a new runner, you may experience some burning in your lungs that may force you to stop running and catch your breath, but this discomfort will typically stop within a few minutes after you begin resting. If you experience pain or burning after each run, you may be breathing incorrectly, or you may have exercise-induced asthma or an underlying medical condition that requires immediate medical attention.

Breathing through your mouth can cause pain or burning in your lungs after running because your brain thinks carbon dioxide is being lost in excess, so your body produces goblet cells to produce mucus, which slows your breathing and constricts your blood vessels. This vasoconstriction and excess mucus can make catching your breath after running more difficult, resulting in a painful burning sensation. The phenomenon is generally temporary and goes away as you gain more experience with running. Exercise-induced asthma, on the other hand, is a chronic condition caused by inflammation and narrowing of the airways.

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zduddy 705
6 years ago

Your lungs are not a muscle and therefore cannot be "strengthened."

zduddy posted some good information but the bottom line is that you need to scale down your intensity to an appropriate aerobic level until you build your aerobic base back up. Investing in a heart rate monitor may be a good idea.

Sky Pile 9.4k
6 years ago

You could try doing intervals and slowly increasing your sprint intervals and decreasing your recovery intervals.

sarahk11 32k
6 years ago

Yeah your lungs kinda “are what they are” from a DNA, genetics & even your “health & wellness resume” & as alluded to by hillcruiser, there’s really no way to strengthen them. What you can focus on however, are the things you can control such as your endurance, breathing & rhythm/timing.

Zduddy nailed the answer with some great technical advice from, which is a good resource for running as well as Runner’s World.


Tony Nicholson 141k
6 years ago

Zduddy!!! Thank you that explained what I was wondering too!!! I started to run outside & noticed that the mucus was worse...not to mention the bugs that I ate as well from breathing through my mouth!!! I have been trying to learn to breath through my nose because of the bugs - a lot harder then I thought it would be but doing much better now I know too, that it will make less mucas!!! THANK YOU!! I LOVE THIS SITE!!!

Karen Wood 12k
6 years ago

add your answer!

Michael Jensen member since Sep '10


MemberMill Park, VIC
7/11/2011 at 8:25 PM