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Lung Capacity Shrinks as we Age

I learned an interesting fact the other day. Did you know that our lung capacity decreases as we age?

After age 20 lung capacity decreases by about .5% – 1% of capacity per year primarily due to a decrease in the elasticity of the lung tissue. The old adage use it or lose it is especially true when it comes to our lungs.

Normal adult lung capacity is 3 to 5 liters (3,000 – 5,000 milliliters), and can be calculated as milliliters of air per kilogram (approx. 2.2 lbs.) of body weight. The equation for women is 50 to 60 milliliters of air for each kilogram of body weight (55 ml x kg), and for men the equation is 70 milliliters per kilogram of body weight (70ml x kg).

This is all somewhat grim news. The good news is that physical fitness increases lung capacity. This
makes adding a minimuim of 30 minutes a day of enjoyable aerobic exercise (running, swimming, rowing, cycling, or even a brisk walk) a critical component to any exercise regimen. Aerobic exercise will not only help to increase your lung capacity, but it will also burn fat, increase your
metabolism, help decrease blood pressure, slow bone and muscle loss, and aid in your overall health and wellness.

As always, consult your physician prior to beginning any new exercise program.

Contact me by e-mail, or by calling me at The Adams Center in my Peabody office at 978-531-0550, or 617-262-2208 in my Boston office for more information on this post, or any other information in my Blog.

Dr. Bill Adams is a greater Boston area board certified plastic surgeon with over 25 years of experience in the field.