Respiratory Health FAQ

What is respiratory health?

Respiratory health is not just the absence of lung diseases. Ideal respiratory health considers lung function as an indicator. Normal or improved lung function is considered healthy, and its reduction is impaired.1 The peak of lung function is achieved in young adulthood, declining due to the lifespan.1 

What are 5 ways to keep your respiratory system healthy?

Here are the best 5 ways to keep your respiratory system healthy:

  • Get active: Exercising strengthens your muscles, and your respiratory muscles (and heart) must work harder to supply your body's oxygen needs. Then physical activity also turns your respiratory muscles stronger.2
  • Healthy eating: surprisingly, for some, diet affects your breathing! A balanced diet, with a high intake of fruits, vegetables, and fish, reduces the risk of lung diseases.3
  • Don’t (or stop) smoke: smoking damage lung tissue and increase risks of pulmonary diseases and other conditions.4
  • Improve the air quality of your home: Avoid exposure to air pollutants, chemicals, and dust, and improving indoor ventilation helps to reduce lung disease exacerbations and symptoms.5
  • Prevent infections: Some hygiene habits, such as wash hands often or using alcohol-based cleaners, and getting vaccinated for flu and pneumonia, help to prevent lung infections and promote lung health.6

What is good for respiratory health?

Physical Activity is associated with good lung function. Thus, doing moderate exercise improves respiratory function, and, at the same time, lower cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with lower lung function.1

Nutrition is also linked with respiratory function: a healthy diet improves pulmonary function.7 Have a healthy diet pattern and, avoid hypercaloric nutrition, prevent obesity and other conditions that directly affect the lungs.3,8  

An important factor that can influence respiratory health is don’t (or stopping) smoking. Smoke exacerbates chronic respiratory diseases and increases the risk of lung cancer and respiratory infections.7,9 Secondhand smoke is inhaling the smoke emitted/exhaled from the burning end of a lit cigarette, cigar, or other smoke. It is also dangerous, causing more susceptibility to respiratory infections and diseases.9 So, stopping smoking can reduce respiratory symptoms, reduce the chance of developing chronic lung diseases, and improve lung function.

What health issues can affect the respiratory system?

The most common diseases that affect the respiratory system are Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, and occupational lung diseases.9,10 Other non-pulmonary conditions indirectly affect the lungs. Some neuromuscular diseases, such as stroke and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, impact the respiratory system causing an inability to respirate, to cough, and a risk of aspiration.11 Also, some cardiovascular diseases cause irregular blood fluid from the lungs, causing pulmonary edema and respiratory failure.12

How can i strengthen my respiratory system?

Sports include running or swimming, indoor training prams, or hobbies like g, andening or cleaning. Different types of physical activity count as exercise ahelp to improve respiratory capacity. To stay healthy is recommended 30 minutes of moderate activity five days a week. Regular exercise can improve your ion.13   

What are the symptoms of respiratory problems?

Primary symptoms of respiratory diseases include:

  • Difficult or labored respiration (dyspnea or fatigue)
  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Weezing and sputum production

These symptoms exacerbate due to different factors, such as exposure to allergens/irritants, respiratory infections with viruses or bacteria, physical exercise, and cold weather.13,14

What foods help repair lungs?

Your nutritional status reflects your capacity to react against diseases. Like the wrong diet, patterns could turn you more susceptible to respiratory infections. Mixing the proper nutrients can help you breathe better, keeping your immunity working. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish are rich in fibres, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. However, although diet directly impacts health and immunity response, do not have sufficient proof for diet as a treatment for respiratory conditions.7

How can i check my lungs at home?

Respiratory rate is a vital signal that can be checked at home. The normal respiratory rate is 12 to 20 respirations per minute for a resting adult. Alterations in the respiratory rate, followed by other respiratory symptoms such as difficulty breathing and coughing, could be a respiratory disorder.15 Tests and diagnoses should be performed with a doctor.

What does a lung health check entail?

Pulmonary function tests are requested to investigate a suspected or previously diagnosed respiratory disease and guide the treatment and intervention. The most frequently used is Spirometry, where patients are asked to take maximal inspiration and then hard exile air for as long and as quickly as possible.7,16


Respiratory health involves normal or improved lung function, which can be maintained through physical activity, a healthy diet, avoiding smoking, improving indoor air quality, and preventing infections. Common respiratory diseases include COPD, asthma, and occupational lung diseases, and symptoms may include difficulty breathing, chest pain, cough, and weezing. Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish may help improve respiratory health, and checking respiratory rate can be done at home. Pulmonary function tests, such as spirometry, are used to diagnose respiratory diseases.


  1. Reyfman PA, Washko GR, Dransfield MT, Spira A, Han MK, Kalhan R. Defining Impaired Respiratory Health. A Paradigm Shift for Pulmonary Medicine. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2018 Aug 15;198(4):440–6.
  2. Aliverti A. The respiratory muscles during exercise. Breathe (Sheff). 2016 Jun;12(2):165–8.
  3. Diet and nutrition [Internet]. [cited 2022 Sep 7]. Available from:
  4. CDCTobaccoFree. Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2021 [cited 2022 Sep 7]. Available from:
  5. Jiang XQ, Mei XD, Feng D. Air pollution and chronic airway diseases: what should people know and do? J Thorac Dis. 2016 Jan;8(1):E31–40.
  6. CDC. Healthy Habits to Help Protect Against Flu [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2022 [cited 2022 Sep 7]. Available from:
  7. Berthon B, Wood L. Nutrition and Respiratory Health—Feature Review [Internet]. Vol. 7, Nutrients. 2015. p. 1618–43. Available from:
  8. Mafort TT, Rufino R, Costa CH, Lopes AJ. Obesity: systemic and pulmonary complications, biochemical abnormalities, and impairment of lung function. Multidiscip Respir Med. 2016 Jul 12;11:28.
  9. CDCTobaccoFree. Respiratory Care Settings and Smoking Cessation [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2022 [cited 2022 Sep 6]. Available from:
  10. Chronic respiratory diseases [Internet]. [cited 2022 Sep 6]. Available from:
  11. Walsh BK. Neonatal and Pediatric Respiratory Care - E-Book. Elsevier Health Sciences; 2014. 744 p.
  12. Anan R. Cardiogenic pulmonary edema [Internet]. 2021. Available from:
  13. Your lungs and exercise. Breathe (Sheff). 2016 Mar;12(1):97–100.
  14. Shukla SD, Vanka KS, Chavelier A, Shastri MD, Tambuwala MM, Bakshi HA, et al. Chronic respiratory diseases: An introduction and need for novel drug delivery approaches [Internet]. Targeting Chronic Inflammatory Lung Diseases Using Advanced Drug Delivery Systems. 2020. p. 1–31. Available from:
  15. Chourpiliadis C, Bhardwaj A. Physiology, Respiratory Rate. In: StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing; 2021.
  16. Ranu H, Wilde M, Madden B. Pulmonary Function Tests. Ulster Med J. 2011 May;80(2):84.

Dayene Caldeira

Masters and PhD candidate in Biological Sciences (Physiology), Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, BR

Visiting Researcher at Queen's University Belfast, UK.
Dayene is a scientific expert experienced in Clinical Data Management and Medical Communication. She has 6 years of experience in Publications, Grant submissions and Regulatory documents in the Medical Writing field. Currently, working with medical education and patient engagement, creating materials about different diseases and therapeutic areas. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
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