If you smoke or used to smoke, knowing how to clean your lungs after smoking is essential. If you recently quit smoking you'll find that your hair and clothes smell better, your skin looks healthier, and your teeth look whiter. Not to mention the fact that you no longer have to stand outside in the Parking Lot of Shame at work, shivering and hacking. Most importantly, you've just changed your entire health outlook. The Surgeon General tells us that the most important thing you can do to improve the quality and length of your life is to quit smoking. Now your body has begun the important work of repairing the damage. While you're lungs may never recover completely from smoking, your health outlook began improving on the day you quit, and will continue to do so. Fifteen years from now, your risk of a stroke or heart disease will be the same as a non-smoker's. To speed up the process of recovery, here are some suggestions for how to clean your lungs after smoking:
- Control your weight. Some studies have indicated that the benefits of quitting smoking are reduced by a significant percentage if you gain too much weight. Be sure that your new, smoke-free lifestyle includes other healthy practices as well.
- Avoid second-hand smoke. Two-thirds of the smoke from a cigarette leaves the smoker and enters the air around him. Don't stall the healing process of your lungs by inhaling smoke from other sources. If you take a break at work, use it to take a walk in the fresh air, rather than hanging around with your old smoking buddies. Don't allow smoking in your home or car, and avoid enclosed areas where smoking is permitted. Luckily, those places are becoming less common.
- Stay healthy. Each time you have a respiratory infection (a cold, for instance), you stress your lungs more and slow their healing. So wash your hands, use a mask when you're exposed to unhealthy people, and get plenty of sleep to boost your immune system.
- Expand those lungs. Aerobic exercise will strengthen and tone your whole body, including your lungs. Consider adding some yoga into your routine as well, so that you breathe consciously, inflating your lungs fully and helping them to clear.
- Choose your environment. Keep the relative humidity in your home between 30 and 50%. Don't allow dust or pet dander to accumulate on surfaces. Watch for the growth of mold and mildew, particularly in your basement or other potentially moist areas of your home. Keep your home well-ventilated, and open a window if you're painting or doing similar projects. If you have to spend any time in a dusty or dirty environment, wear protective gear.
You should feel fantastic about quitting smoking—it's a huge accomplishment, and one many people fail to achieve. These simple suggestions not only tell you how to clean your lungs after smoking, but will help you to reclaim your overall health for the many years of clean breathing you have ahead of you.