Our lungs are vital to our health. They filter the air we breathe, provide us with the oxygen we need to exist, and allow us to speak to one another2. Quite simply, without healthy, functioning lungs, one’s quality of life is substantially and adversely impacted.
Healthy Lung month is an opportunity to be more conscientious about your lung health, to take steps to improve your lung health and, ultimately, to improve your quality of life!
Implementing the following steps is a great way to prioritize your lung health:
- Prevent illness. In the middle of a worldwide pandemic, this is now more important than ever. Lung illnesses put a strain on your entire respiratory system, not just your lungs. Prevent infections that lead to illnesses by washing your hands regularly, practicing good hygiene, and eating a healthy, nutrient-dense diet; these practices are essential in protecting your lungs from pathogens that can devastate your immune system.1
- Exercise regularly. Physical exercise doesn’t just make your muscles stronger; it makes your lungs stronger too! Healthy adults should be moderately exercising approximately 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Moderate exercise can be enjoying a brisk walk, playing with your children or pets at the park, or even cleaning your house! Improving your lung strength doesn’t need to be intense; it just needs to be consistent.1
- Quit smoking. Smoking is a major cause of heart disease and lung disease. In fact, smoking and tobacco-related illnesses are the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.3,4 While the stress of the pandemic can make it difficult to quit smoking, and even more difficult to stay quit, it is the single-best thing you can do to improve the health of your lungs.1,3 Fortunately, help to quit smoking is free! Gulfcoast South Area Health Education Center (GSAHEC), as part of the Tobacco Free Florida AHEC Cessation Program—offers free tobacco cessation sessions that are available to help someone quit all forms of tobacco. These group sessions, held virtually and in-person, provide information about the effects of tobacco use, the benefits of quitting, and will assist you with developing your own customized quit plan. Free nicotine replacement therapy in the form of patches, gum or lozenges (if medically appropriate and while supplies last) are provided with the session. Contact us today at 866-534-7909 or visit our calendar to schedule a group quit session or learn more about the program!
- Get screened. Early detection is crucial in identifying lung cancer and establishing a favorable prognosis. In fact, screening for lung cancer using low-dose CT scans can lower the chance of dying from lung cancer by 20 percent, according to the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial.1 If you are between the ages of 55 and 77, have a 30 pack-year history of smoking (smoking an average of a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years), are a current smoker or have quit smoking in the last 15 years, you should be screened for lung cancer1. Contact your local hospitals and lung care clinics to learn more about screenings available to your community.
3 Tools to Quit: Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Cessation Program Participant Toolkit. Area Health Education Centers. 2018.
4 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014. Printed with corrections, January 2014. Accessed April 3, 2020.