How to have healthy lungs in time for winter

As cold and flu season approaches (and coronavirus continues to linger) taking care of our lungs has never been more important.

In preparation for the autumn and winter months, Jessica Kirby, head of health advice at Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation (BLF) and Dr Amit Patel, Consultant Respiratory physician, have given 3 top tips on how we can keep our lungs in optimum condition:

1. Wear a scarf around your mouth in cold weather
Covering your face can be incredibly effective for people who have pre-existing lung conditions, such as asthma. Really cold weather can trigger a flare up in people’s symptoms; it can tighten the airways, and sometimes cause asthma attacks. If you’re moving from a warm environment to outside quite suddenly, it can be a shock to your lungs.

To combat this sensation tying a scarf loosely over your mouth and nose when you go out can help. This keeps the air that’s right next to your mouth warmer, which can take the edge off some of the shock.

2. Exercise appropriately

Although it’s tempting, you shouldn’t skip your morning jog on a frosty morning. If you’re not exercising, your muscles can de-condition which is a core component of lung health. Some people exercise less in the winter because it feels harder. When combined with possible cycles of infection it can impact on lung health. This doesn’t have to be a really long run either. Even something as small as getting off the bus one stop early can help to get your lungs working.

3. Take vitamin D
A study released in 2018 found that higher levels of Vitamin D were associated with improved lung function. As autumn approaches it may be worth investing in some vitamin D supplements. Alternatively, try tweaking your diet to include more oily fish, egg yolks and red meat, which are all good sources of vitamin D.