Strengthen your lungs during the pandemic.
That advice should come as no surprise. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, and lung capacity is the best single biomarker for your health.
Of course, most doctors won’t tell you that.
But consider the evidence.
One study followed 12,000 people in western New York State for three decades.
After crunching the numbers, researchers came to one simple, undeniable conclusion: The stronger your lungs are … the less likely you’ll die of any cause.1
The European Society of Cardiology reported that even a minor drop in lung capacity raises your heart disease risk by 200%.2
But fortunately, anyone can build lung power using an ancient Chinese breathing practice called Qi Gong (pronounced “chee-GUNG”). Let me explain.
Qi Gong’s Healing Power Revealed
University of Arizona researchers seeking holistic treatments for COVID-19 trained 20 subjects to practice Qi Gong.
Qi Gong is a 2,000-year-old breathing ritual that combines breathing and mindfulness with slow, graceful movements. In the study, participants practiced Qi Gong for 20 minutes a day.
Researchers reported Qi Gong triggered a “significant increase” in lung capacity.
After just 10 days, their lungs had become 20% better at taking in oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide.3
It was a potentially lifesaving improvement.
Qi Gong — The Ancient Health Revolution
Qi Gong is thousands of years old. It’s based on the principle that “energy follows breath,” and millions of people practice it in Asia to ward off migraines, diabetes, heart disease, and digestive problems.
Its graceful, relaxed movements are accompanied by soft, steady abdominal breathing.
I’ve practiced it for many years now, and it gives me a sense of serene wellness. Long before COVID-19, I was sharing it with my patients.
The good news is anyone at any age can learn Qi Gong.
Begin by placing the tip of your tongue gently on the roof of your mouth. This “completes the circuit” so your energy can flow freely.
Next, take a comfortable, relaxed stance with an ever-so-slight bend in the knees. Your chin is slightly tucked. Your pelvis is rotated slightly forward, not back.
Some practitioners find it helps to imagine being suspended from an invisible string attached to the top of their head and extending down through their body. The idea is to achieve proper body alignment, thereby allowing your breath-energy to flow unimpeded.
Hold your hands out in front of you as if you’re holding an invisible ball. The palms face each other about 12 to 18 inches apart.
As you inhale through the nose, slowly move your hands apart like the ball is expanding. As you softly exhale, bring your hands back to the starting point. The tongue should lightly touch the roof of your mouth, right behind your front teeth.
As they breathe, some practitioners visualize a white stream of energy flowing out from a point about 2 inches below the belly button, known as the Tan T’ien in traditional Chinese medicine. This is the “reservoir” where your energy collects and builds.
Keep your mind clear and focus on your breathing. Repeat the movement four times, and remember to synchronize your breathing. Over time, build up to six or seven repetitions.
Next, turn your palms face up at about the level of your navel. As you breathe in, gradually raise your hands up to your pectoral muscles. Then rotate your palms down and softly exhale as you lower your hands back down to where you started.
Congratulations! Very gradually, build up to 10 to 20 minutes of Qi Gong daily. It’s a great way to start each day … and you’ll have less stress and stronger lungs.
By the way, you can find plenty of Qi Gong instructional videos online. This one features an internationally recognized Qi Gong master based in Minnesota.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Schunemann, H. J., Dorn, J., Grant, B. J. B., Winkelstein, W., & Trevisan, M. (2000). Pulmonary Function Is a Long-term Predictor of Mortality in the General Population. Chest, 118(3), 656–664.
2. The European Society of Cardiology, 1998.
3. Lim YA, Boone T, Flarity JR, Thompson WR. Effects of qigong on cardiorespiratory changes: a preliminary study. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 1993;21(1):1-6. doi:10.1142/S0192415X93000029