Tuesday, February 18, 2020
A trip to Dundee, Part I: Pulmunary Function
I will be the first to admit I don't get out much.
Shopping for a new vehicle has been good for me. It has taken me further afield than normal.
Yesterday's safari took us to the town of Dundee, Michigan which is close to Toledo.
While driving there, Mrs ERJ kept me entertained with a running commentary. Who needs a radio?
One of the more interesting topics involved pulmonary (lung) function.
The topic is timely because the Covid-19 virus kills primarily by pneumonia and corona virus seems to hit folks over fifty particularly hard. (This is when I raise my hand. I am over fifty)
The first bit of advice was to take all steps necessary to improve the quality of the air you breath. If you smoke: STOP. Dip. Switch to cigars. Eat brownies. Do what you have to do but stop sucking that sh!t into your lungs.
Improve indoors air quality. Vacuum frequently. Change air filters religiously (Christmas and Easter, anyway).
The second bit of advice was surprising: Breathing exercises.
From what I deduce based on Mrs ERJ's commentary, our breathing habits are a bit like our walking stride. We have a natural proclivity based on our body-type but we can change it through conscious effort.
Mrs ERJ sometimes tells a story about her mother. M-i-L ERJ was raised in the Deep South and was raised to be a lady. Ladies do NOT pant like dogs. Their bellies never distend while in public. Nor do they perspire. The conditioning was so deep that she was the despair of the respiratory therapists who worked with her after an operation. By that time, M-i-L couldn't breath deeply and that may have contributed to her premature demise.
There are Breathing Exercises that make breathing deeply and getting air to the lower parts of your lung feel more natural. The exercises do increase lung capacity as tissues stretch.
The cardio-vascular system is joined at the hip, so to speak, to the pulmonary system.
Nearly anything you do to increase cardio-vascular fitness will automatically help lung function.
"Cardio" exercise automatically provides breathing exercise. It is almost impossible to do cardio without being forced to breath deeply as our VO2 demand goes up.
Lose weight, especially if you have a beer-belly.
When you are breathing you are lifting the mass of the tissue that is padding your ribs.
When you are fat, that beer belly doesn't just extend upward, it intrudes upward and can vastly diminish the physical ability of your diaphragm to move downward and pull air into your lungs.
Nearly everything you do to improve your cardio-vascular function will help you lose weight.
Eat foods rich in anti-oxidants, rich in vitamins A and D or are vividly colored. Mrs ERJ said Skittles do not qualify.
I know, it sucks. Broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots, berries, chicken. Think positively: If you cover half the plate with those kinds of foods you will probably lose weight.
The good news for me is that red wine is on the "good" list and elderberries are near the top. Elderberry bushes qualify as a "weed" in these parts. You can't kill the darned things. I may have to start harvesting them.
The reason Covid-19 monkey-hammers folks over fifty* may be related to the fact that we gain weight and lose fitness as we age. We hurt more, and longer after exercising. We heal more slowly.
It is a case of move-or-die. The thing is, we have to move now because building fitness is like planting a garden. We till the soil, plant the seeds and pull the weeds so we can have a harvest six months from now.
*the other main reason is that we are more likely to accumulate other health issues as we age. Issues like diabetes, hepatitis, renal impairment and so on. Many of the Covid-19 deaths had these kinds of secondary factors.