5 Tips for Healthy Lungs

Are you taking steps to protect your lungs? If not, you could be putting yourself at risk for a host of respiratory problems, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, tuberculosis, and lung cancer. If left untreated, lung problems can also cause stress on your heart and lead to other serious health issues.

To raise public awareness about the importance of lung health, a number of health-related organizations including the American Association of Respiratory Care (AARC), the American Thoracic Society, and the American College of Chest Physicians have come together to designate 2010 "The Year of the Lung." This campaign is working to spread the word that taking care of your respiratory system is essential to keep your entire body functioning at its best.

Here are five key steps you can take this year and beyond to help you get the most from each breath:

  1. Quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke. If you smoke, it's essential to kick the habit once and for all. Half of all adult smokers will die from a lung-related illness. The sooner you quit, the better your odds of reducing your risk of suffering from COPD, emphysema, and other lung conditions. People who don't smoke but breathe in other people's smoke can also be at an increased risk for lung damage. So avoid places where smokers congregate and if a family member smokes, encourage him to stop.
  2. Control your asthma. If asthma is left untreated, it can eventually damage your lungs. By taking your control medications as directed, you can manage your symptoms and take steps to head off an impending attack. This is essential to ensure the best quality of life and also reduce your risk of suffering a life-threatening asthma attack.
  3. Avoid illness. For people with respiratory ailments, even a simple cold or flu can lead to complications. The best way to avoid illness is to wash your hands often, avoid large crowds during flu season, and get a flu shot. If you're 65 or older, you may also need a pneumonia vaccine.
  4. Exercise. Participating in regular exercise can be good for your health. It reduces obesity, keeps your heart strong, and prevents your lungs from working too hard.
  5. Check the air. If you have asthma or other health problems, check the levels of air pollution and other allergens before heading outside. On days when particle pollution and ozone levels are high, or mold spores and pollen are out in full force, stay indoors as much as possible. Even people without respiratory ailments may find that polluted air compromises their lung function and can lead to asthma or other long-term damage.


American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC)



American Lung Association (ALA)



Cleveland Clinic


The Year of the Lung Campaign