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Body health and its relation with lung capacity

The capacity of the lungs is the ability of the lungs to hold the air while breathing. Decreased and increased lung capacity can have an impact on your health condition. Check out more in the following reviews!

Under normal circumstances, both lungs can accommodate as much as about 6 liters of air. As age increases, lung capacity and function will decline after entering the age of 35 years.

Some body changes that occur naturally as we age can indeed cause a decrease in lung capacity. This can have an impact on the breathing, where the sufferer will feel a little more difficult to breathe.

As we get older, the diaphragm muscles become weak, the elasticity of the lung tissue that helps open airways can also decrease, so the respiratory tract becomes narrower. Likewise with the rib movement that becomes more limited due to the age factor, so that the lungs can not expand to the fullest.

 Lung Capacity

Medical Conditions Related to Decrease and Increase Lung Capacity

In addition to age, there are several conditions associated with decreased lung capacity. The condition is a restrictive lung disease, a condition where the lungs can not store too much air. The ability of the lungs in storing air is influenced by external factors or internal body.

Several factors of the lung organ causing decreased lung capacity include pneumonia, pleural effusion, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, decreased lung volume after pulmonary surgery, pulmonary swelling, nerve damage in the respiratory muscles, interstitial lung disease, and scoliosis. Under normal conditions, the lung tissue is flexible and can expand and deflate well to support the respiratory process. However, in the above mentioned medical conditions, a person may find it more difficult to breathe because the damaged lung tissue has decreased elasticity, or because of respiratory muscle problems so the body is not able to breathe with maximum.

Lung capacity can also increase. This condition can occur in obstructive pulmonary disease. Some medical conditions associated with increased lung capacity, namely chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, bronchiectasis, and cystic fibrosis. These conditions make the air moving outward more slowly than usual, so it feels more difficult when exhaling. Patients also tend to experience shortness of breath during heavy activity.

Measuring Lung Capacity

To determine the amount of lung capacity, the most commonly used method is spirometry. Spirometry is a test to measure how much air can be exhaled maximally in one breath. This test is performed by a doctor using a spirometer tool.

Spirometry can be used to help diagnose a medical condition related to the lungs, or when your doctor suspects you have a lung-related illness. In addition to undergoing physical examination and support such as chest X-ray, your doctor may also recommend that you perform a spirometry test if you have persistent or persistent cough or wheezing symptoms, or if you are over 35 years old and have heavy smoking.

Some conditions that can be known from spirometry tests include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary fibrosis. Spirometry can also be performed to check the severity of the condition or to see the progress of your condition after treatment.

Factors affecting the vital capacity of the lung


Under normal circumstances both lungs can accommodate as much as ± 6 liters. When expiration occurs, inside the lungs still lags ± 3 liters of air. At ordinary breathing the air entering the lungs is 2600 cc (2.5 liters) of breathing. Under normal circumstances:

  • Adult: 16-18 times per minute
  • Children: 24 times per minute
  • Infants approximately: 30 times per minute

Although in adults breathing is less than children and infants, the adult's vital capacity is greater than that of children and infants. Under certain circumstances may change for example the consequences of a disease, breathing may accelerate or otherwise.


Pulmonary vital capacity affects the sex of a person. Women's volume and lung capacity is approximately 20 to 25% less than in men (Guyton & Hall, 2008).

Respiratory frequency in men is faster than women because men need a lot of energy to move, meaning more oxygen is taken from the air this happens because men generally move more than women.

Nutritional status

A person's nutritional status may affect the vital capacity of the lung. A person with a category of thin and tall is usually his vital capacity is more than a short fat man. The problem of nutritional deficiency and excess in adults (age 18 years and over) is an important issue, because in addition to having the risk of certain diseases, can also affect work productivity. Therefore, monitoring of such circumstances needs to be done on an ongoing basis. One way is to maintain ideal or normal weight.

Health condition

Health conditions can affect the vital capacity of a person's lungs. The strength of the respiratory muscles can be reduced due to illness. Health problems that occur in a person due to respiratory tract infections may result in decreased lung function (Pearce, 2002).

History of the disease

In some studies the results obtained that someone who has a history of lung disease is associated significantly with the occurrence of pulmonary function disorders. From the results of the study, it was found that workers with a history of lung disease had a 2-fold greater risk of lung function impairment.

Smoking habit

In lung tissue there is an increase in the number of inflammatory cells and alveoli damage. As a result of changes in airway anatomy, in smokers will arise changes in lung function and all kinds of clinical changes. This becomes the main basis of the occurrence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Smoking habits and will accelerate the decrease in lung physiology. The decrease in forced expiratory volume per year was 28.7 ml for non-smokers, 38.4 ml for former smokers, and 41.7 ml of active smokers. The effect of cigarette smoke can be greater than the effect of dust is only about a third of the bad influence of cigarettes.

Sports habits

Exercise or regular physical exercise will lead to an increase in optimal physical fitness and durability, while exercises work together with various muscle fatigues, muscle flexibility, reaction speed, agility, movement coordination and cardiorespiratory system endurance.

The vital capacity of the lung and exercise has a reciprocal relationship, impaired vital pulmonary capacity can affect the ability of the sport. Conversely regular physical exercise can increase the vital capacity of the lung. Sports habits will increase lung capacity by 30-40% (Guyton & Hall, 2008).

How to Keep Lung Capacity

Decreased lung function is a normal part of the aging process. Even so, there are steps you can take to strengthen your lungs, including:

  • Apply active life, especially active physically with regular exercise. You can do various exercises to strengthen lung function and capacity, such as diaphragm muscle breathing exercises, mouth breathing techniques, and stretching exercises of the ribs.
  • Stop smoking and avoid exposure to cigarette smoke and environmental pollution.
  • Apply a healthy diet with lots of intake containing antioxidants.
  • Improve indoor air quality. Use an indoor air filter and reduce pollutants, such as artificial fragrances, cigarette smoke, mold, and dust.
  • Make sure you get vaccinated on time, such as flu vaccines and pneumonia vaccine. This can help prevent damage from lung infections.


Although decreased lung capacity due to age can make breathing a little heavier, but stay alert if there is difficulty breathing or shortness of breath that accompanied the old cough and not healed. If you have respiratory-related problems, please do not hesitate to consult a pulmonary specialist for proper examination and treatment



American Lung Association (2018). Lung Capacity and Aging. Caronia, J. Medscape (2017). Drugs & Diseases. Restrictive Lung Disease. Gotter, A. Healthline (2017). Breathing Exercises to Increase Lung Capacity.

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Is a health and wellness enthusiast. In him free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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