Lung Health + Exercising: What You’d Don’t Know (part II)

Let’s hear it for exercising! This blog is the second in a two-part series titled “What You Don’t Know About Exercising” because outside of the more obvious results like weight/fat loss, muscle gain, increased energy, better mobility, and pain relief, exercising delivers SO MANY MORE benefits that keep you thriving and surviving – literally!

Though less obvious, these other benefits drastically improve your life and body’s ability to properly function and keep you alive. My last blog explored what happens to your brain and heart when you exercise so today’s focus is on the lungs!

Can you really “train” your lungs to work better? If so, how do you do it?

Let’s start by stating the obvious – LUNGS ARE VITAL for living. You want and need to be keeping your lungs in tip top health so today’s blog is teaching you:

#1. Why you want + need healthy lungs!

#2. How exercise makes your lungs MORE efficient!

#3. Tips to start improving your lung health TODAY!


We’ve all been there…those last few minutes of exercise where you’re feeling tired and ready for it to be over.  Regardless if you are new to exercising or not, it never gets easier – what gives?

Even though metabolic exercise is hard work, it helps your lungs become more efficient at breathing!

WOW, talk about an incentive to start exercising!

What exactly is metabolic exercise? Exercises/movements performed with maximum effort that work multiple muscle groups for short, intense periods.  This can include both bodyweight exercises as well as exercises that use a weight / other form of resistance. The key is going ALL OUT (keeping in mind maximal effort is relative to YOUR individual fitness level).

Examples of metabolic exercises include squats, lunges, ball slams, kettlebell swings, bike sprints, rowing, and jumping of any kind. The most important takeaway is understanding how this type of exercise impacts your breathing and lung capacity!

This is what happens to your lungs with exercise:  Your lungs are protected by your rib cage, which is great since the lungs are basically two balloons in your chest, but it’s impossible to make your rib cage bigger and bones longer meaning the lungs can only expand so much.  But, when you exercise, the amount of air being brought into the lungs can increase by 20-fold! 

There are two ways to increase your lung capacity:

#1. Increase the number of breaths into your lungs per minute (respiratory rate).

#2. Increase the volume/amount of air you breath in per minute.

Exercise is a one stop shop to achieve both and thus a highly effective tool for increasing your lung capacity. Let’s look at two examples to see how your respiratory rate and volume of air both increase with exercise:

Example #1 – Average Male: The oxygen consumption of an average male at rest is about 250 mL/min. As demonstrated below, you will see how different levels / types of exercise affect a male’s lung capacity:

  • Not well trained and/or inconsistent: increase to ≈3,500mL/min

  • Consistent metabolic training: increase to ≈4,000mL/min

  • Elite marathoner or cyclist: increase to ≈5,100mL/min

  • During a 30-minute metabolic training session (the equivalent to our Interval Classes), breaths per minute will increase from 12-20 breathes per minute to 40-60 breathes per minute, taking in about 100-115 liters of air during the metabolic training session!!!

Example #2 – Average Female:  The oxygen consumption of an average female at rest is about 200 mL/min. As demonstrated below, you will see how different levels / types of exercise affect a female’s lung capacity:

  • Not very well trained and/or inconsistent: increase to ≈2,750mL/min

  • Consistent metabolic training: increase to ≈3,500mL/min

  • Elite marathoner or cyclist: increase to ≈4,250mL/min

  • During a 30-minute metabolic training session (equivalent to our Interval Classes), breaths per minute will increase from 12-20 breaths per minute to 40-60, taking in about 100 liters of air. 

Regardless of gender and / or training status, oxygen consumption always goes up during exercise, but HOLY MOLY, what a big jump!  The more air and oxygen you breathe, the more oxygen there is for your muscles to keep working, heart to keep pumping, and brain to keep functioning! Even the little intercostal muscles (the muscles in between each rib) get stronger and better at expanding your rib cage! All of this right here is why it’s so important to be consistent with your training and push yourself past your initial comfort zone. 

**Bonus: Healthy and efficient lungs also play a part in reducing your recovery time.  Someone new to metabolic training can take up to 20 minutes to fully recover while individuals training for 6+ months recover in about half that time!

Maintaining a consistent exercise schedule leads to big time benefits both in and outside of the gym.  The more efficient you are at breathing, the more things you can do: More work and less rest breaks when exercising, taking the longer route when walking your dog, being able to play with your kids or grandkids for the inevitable “just one more game” request, and getting extra cleaning or yard work done around the house.  Being physically fit enough to make it through each of these activities all starts in the gym and even more so, with your lung capacity!


Now that you understand how exercising improves your lung health and breathing capacity, what can you start doing now to reap these glorious benefits? What if you’re not currently exercising or new to it all? What kind of exercises / workouts are best for your age and fitness level?

To get started, we always recommend working with a coach if you are new to exercise and / or have movement restrictions and injuries. Working with a coach means you always know what to do, you always do it correctly, and you stay injury free so that you can continually see progress! When it comes to finding the best metabolic workout, we offer Interval Classes knowing these pack a lot of PUNCH when it comes to improving your health, especially lung capacity and function.

If you’d like to learn more about our workouts and working together, click HERE to talk to one of our expert coaches for free to learn more!

Now, maybe you’re thinking to yourself “buuut cardio-based workouts (metabolic training) isn’t really my thing!”

That’s ok! Although exercising regularly makes it easier to track your progress and really push yourself, there are other options.  For example, getting out for a fun game of pickleball or a brisk jog with your dog still gets that respiratory rate up!  As long as you’re going for at least 30 minutes, that respiratory rate will increase, and your body will reap the benefits.

Comparatively, maybe your thought is: “I’ve been consistently exercising 3 times a week for months but still feel like I’m struggling – what gives?”

Whether you’re taking long jogs, following metabolic Youtube videos or showing up to our Interval Classes, it’s sooo important to keep in mind that any type of metabolic training is supposed to be challenging!  Remember that part about maximal effort? Exercising isn’t easy and won’t always feel easy. This is normal and to be expected! If you’re ever feeling like you can’t keep up or are in a bit of a slump, think back to when you first started exercising.  I’d bet where you are today compared to where you started is a HUGE improvement!  It’s not something that you see in the mirror and it’s not something that’s easily measured, but the most consistent you are and the longer you stay consistent, the more your body adapts. 

I think we can all agree breathing is very important; not just for living, but for having a happy and fulfilling life!  The more you exercise, the stronger your muscles get, but it’s so much more than that! The lungs take in all the oxygen our body needs and as you exercise, the heart has to pump harder, and your lungs have to take more breaths to keep up with the demand!  The more consistent you are with your training, over time, your lungs will get more efficient at breathing and delivering oxygen to the blood.  The more oxygen you have, the more work you can put in, and the more results you’ll see! Finding things you enjoy outside of the RF are just as important!  Whether that’s taking walks with friends, or finding an active hobby you enjoy, it all ties in to leading that happier life.  Keep up with your favorite activity so that your heart pumps better, your brain thinks harder, and your lungs breathe easier.  😊

If you’ve been thinking about making your epic RF return or signing up for one more class each week, now you have all the proof you need to move forward! 

Keep hustling and keep breathing 😊.


Remember, you are too lit to quit now! You CAN and WILL achieve your health, fitness and nutrition goals!


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