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#SmogKills: Wondering How Healthy Are Your Lungs? Test Yourself!

We’ve got three easy ways to test your lungs after all these weeks of heavy air pollution.

Updated
Environment
3 min read

As air quality in parts of north India is at hazardous levels, it’s important to think about how this is affecting us.

Luckily, there are some ways you can test and strengthen your lung capacity at home. If you feel like your lungs are struggling, you should consider seeing a doctor. And before you try these out yourself, make sure you clean all the material you use, especially if you’re going to be trying it out with multiple people.

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Test 1. Incentive Spectrometer

This little device is used to exercise lungs for patients with asthma and low lung capacity. It can also tell you how fast your lungs can expel air. The higher you can get the little balls into the air, the better your lungs are doing!

You can buy an incentive spectrometer for around Rs 500 in a pharmacy.

I couldn’t get more than two of the exercise balls up. (Photo: Youtube Screengrab)
I couldn’t get more than two of the exercise balls up. (Photo: Youtube Screengrab)
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Test 2. Balloons

If you don’t want to buy a lung exerciser, you can buy some balloons. Take one deep breath and breathe out until you have nothing left in your lungs. Then, use a string to measure the circumference of the balloon.

You should be able to blow the balloon around half way if you have healthy lung capacity. Don’t worry too much if you struggle to get the technique down.

Wrap a string around the balloon to measure the circumference. (Photo: Youtube Screengrab)
Wrap a string around the balloon to measure the circumference. (Photo: Youtube Screengrab)
You can do this several times to see if you get the same result. (Photo: Youtube Screengrab)
You can do this several times to see if you get the same result. (Photo: Youtube Screengrab)

Test 3. The Air and Bucket Challenge

If you want a slightly more accurate method, you need a bucket, a 5 litre bottle of water, a 500 ml bottle of water and a pipe or hose.

Take the 5 litre bottle, and mark every 500 ml. (Photo: Youtube Screengrab)
Take the 5 litre bottle, and mark every 500 ml. (Photo: Youtube Screengrab)

Once you’ve finished marking the bottle, fill it to the brim. Then, carefully turn it over into the bucket of water without letting any water out. The water in the bucket should prevent any air from getting into the 5 litre bottle.

Take one end of the pipe, and stick it into the mouth of the 5 litre bottle. (Photo: Youtube Screengrab)
Take one end of the pipe, and stick it into the mouth of the 5 litre bottle. (Photo: Youtube Screengrab)

Then, take a deep breath and blow as hard and as long as you can into the bottle. Air should fill the bottle.

Once you can’t let out any more air, take the pipe out, put your hand firmly on the top of the bottle, and take it out of the bucket, flipping it right side up. See how much water is left in the bottle.

Our bottle wasn’t exactly 5 litres, it was closer to 4.7 litres. So with some basic math, subtract how much water is left from 4.7 or 5 litres (depending on your bottle). That’s how much air your lungs can expel!

My lung capacity was around 3.2 litres. (Photo: Youtube Screengrab)
My lung capacity was around 3.2 litres. (Photo: Youtube Screengrab)

Average lung capacity for an adult is 3 to 5 litres.

Now, it’s your turn. Good luck!

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(This article was first published on 2 December 2016 and is being republished from The Quint’s archives.)

(Breathe In, Breathe Out: Are you finding it tough to breathe polluted air? Join hands with FIT to find #PollutionKaSolution. Send in your suggestions tofit@thequint.com or WhatsApp @ +919999008335)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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