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What’s your lung capacity?

Did you know that the average person takes 12 to 16 breaths a minute? That means we breathe between 17,280 and 23,040 times a day! But, not all breaths are created equal. From a short, shallow gasp to a long, deep yawn, breaths can take in different amounts of air. The amount of air our lungs can hold is called lung capacity.

Surprising news

Men tend to have greater lung capacity than women, but on average, human lungs hold about six liters of air. By the young age of 35, people begin to have reduced lung capacity due to aging.

The surprising news is that even young, healthy lungs do not use their full capacity. According to Dr. Jonathan Parsons of the Ohio State University Asthma Center, “The lungs are over-engineered to accomplish the job that we ask them to do. In healthy people without chronic lung disease, even at maximum exercise intensity, we only use 70 percent of the possible lung capacity.”

What’s your lung capacity?

To measure lung capacity, doctors have patients do a breathing test, or spirometry. During the test, patients close their nostrils and breathe into a long plastic tube connected to a machine. They inhale as deeply as possible. Then they exhale for as long as they can, as quickly as they can. The patient’s results are compared with average readings based on age, gender, and body size.

Lung capacity can get better

If you have reduced lung capacity, you can improve it. For example, in the years following the 9/11 attacks, medical tests showed that first responders had weakened lung capacity. Doctors, however, remained confident that the emergency workers would return to full capacity because lungs “cleanse themselves naturally.”

Experts at the Lung Institute say that one way to improve lung capacity is to maintain a clean, dust-free home. This includes filtering the air inside your home with an air purifier, like the Coway Airmega. The Coway Airmega product line features air purifiers with HEPA filters that remove up to 99.97 percent of airborne particles. There are several units to choose from, including a Coway Airmega equipped with a smart air quality sensor. The sensor automatically reads when it’s time to filter and refresh the air, so you can keep breathing easily.