The human body is an aerobic organism; this means it requires oxygen to function. Where does this oxygen come from?
It comes from gas exchange that occurs within the lungs. Without oxygen the cells in your body will die from hypoxia, hypoxia is a condition when the oxygen levels are too low to support the vital function of the cell and so it dies. Death begins at the cellular level and continues until the entire organism (YOU) succumbs.
This is how important your lungs are. Most of you have likely heard the term “cardio-pulmonary”; cardio-pulmonary refers to the heart and lungs. These two organs work together and their main purpose is to provide oxygen to the cells of your body.
They only way they can do this is that your lungs first must perform their duty of respiration, this is the act of taking in air (breathing), and through gas exchange absorbing oxygen into the blood stream and releasing carbon dioxide out through exhalation. Your heart then pumps the oxygenated blood through your body and thus provides oxygen to the cells, oxygen that is vital to your existence.
So now that you know how important your lungs are to your existence, can you fathom why some people smoke tobacco products (or any other various inhalants)? Do you smoke? Well if you do you should quit, smoking is the number one cause of cardio-pulmonary disease. When a person willfully inhales smoke, they are inhaling poisons and toxins and tar along with their nicotine, (which is actually a poison itself).
The tar from smoke builds up in the lungs over time (surprisingly little time at that) and seals off the little air sacs in the lungs called alveoli (which mean little cavity) which is where the gas exchange occurs. When these sacs, or alveoli, are sealed off and gas exchange can no longer occur, the lungs are no longer working at capacity and so your body begins to want for oxygen.
This causes your heart rate to increase in an effort to pump more blood to the organs and cells thereof to sustain life, which increases your blood pressure. These two factors then increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, and subsequently death. All this trouble because you chose not to take care of your lungs.
Your lungs can be exercised like anything else, even just a brisk walk can help your lungs (and heart) to be healthier. If you can tolerate more strenuous exercise, jogging or bicycle riding can really get that heart rate up and the lungs working.
Greater lung capacity leads to an easier job for your lungs (and heart). Most people take better care of their cars than they do their bodies, regular oil changes and tune-ups to keep the ol’ engine running, and they stand outside and smoke while the car is on the rack. Brilliant.