Recent Blog Articles
Anti-inflammatory food superstars for every season
Harvard Health Ad Watch: An upbeat ad for a psoriasis treatment
A new targeted treatment for early-stage breast cancer?
What is neurodiversity?
Thinking about holiday gatherings? Harvard Health experts weigh in
Time to stock up on zinc?
Recent study shows more complications with alternative prostate biopsy method
Walnuts: A worthy addition to your daily diet?
What it takes to achieve world-changing scientific breakthroughs
Do weighted blankets help with insomnia?
6 ways to maximize lung health
Exercising, avoiding pollutant exposure, controlling weight, and other strategies may help you breathe easier.
You may not know it, but your lungs — like many of your organs — have some backup power to get you through situations that stress your health. This excess capacity, called physiological reserve, helps your lungs weather infection and chronic disease.
Lung reserve is robust when we're young, but it diminishes over time as part of the normal aging process. Smoking or long-term lung diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema can accelerate that decline. Diminished reserve makes us more vulnerable to a new or sudden lung problem. "If you get a severe infection and start with lower lung function compared to when you were younger, you have less reserve capacity and you won't tolerate the infection as well," says Dr. Richard Schwartzstein, chief of the Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine Division at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Free Healthbeat Signup
Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!