How Does Exercise Affect the Lungs?

exercise-affect-lungs Credit: Assembly/Blend Images/Getty Images

Although exercise has no effect on lung capacity, exercise benefits the body's cardio-respiratory efficiency, according to Scientific American. During exercise, the heart pumps harder and faster, working with the lungs to deliver oxygenated blood to the muscles. Breathing rate and depth increase as the lungs work to provide more oxygen to the blood pumping through. Exercisers' bodies grow better at loading, transporting and using oxygen.

In addition to delivering oxygen, the lung also carry away carbon dioxide, explains Scientific American. This gas exchange process is also more efficient in exercisers. The majority of health benefits related to exercise go to the heart and the cardio-vascular system by reducing cholesterol, blood pressure and the harmful plaque buildup that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. The body's overall health and strength also improve as muscle mass is maintained or increased and fat is lost.

Even people with chronic lung diseases such as asthma and emphysema can benefit from exercise and improve the body's ability to use available oxygen more efficiently, according to Health Central. Those with chronic health issues, including lung disease, must work with a health profession to develop a safe and effective exercise plan. Health Central recommends swimming and yoga for asthma sufferers, and for those who enjoy running, Health Central advises finding indoor running locations away from air pollutants or cold winter air.