How fit are your lungs?

How efficient one’s own lungs are can be tested quickly and easily at home – even without having to take a performance test at the doctor’s office. A good indicator is the lung volume during inhalation and exhalation. It is – simplified – the unit of measurement for the performance of the respiratory system (and thus for your fitness).

Lung volume varies from person to person.

From economy to first class volume: it depends on age, gender, body size and individual training status. On average, a healthy adult has a volume of two to three liters. Competitive athletes can reach a volume of eight liters and apnea divers even a peak value of ten liters.

So the good news in advance: lung performance can be greatly improved by regular training. Endurance and conditioning sports are ideal for this purpose.

Calculate lung volume

With a simple formula you can calculate the average value for your lung volume that can be expected for you personally.

Body size x 2.5 = lung volume

Calculation example:
1,80m (body height in meters) x 2.5 = 4.5l (lung volume in liters)
With a body height of 1.80 meters, the normal lung volume is approx. 4½ liters.

How fit are your lungs?

The candle test

For the test you need a candle and a tape measure. Place the candle one meter away from you and light it. If you manage to blow out the candle from this distance, you have excellent stamina. You can now test if you can make it from further away. If you do not manage the meter, reduce the distance until you can blow out the candle.

If you can still blow out the candle while holding it in your own outstretched hand, the efficiency of your lungs is still in the normal range. Anything below it indicates low lung volume or narrowing of the airways. Consult your family doctor or pulmonologist about your test result.

How fit are your lungs?

The balloon test

For the test you need a 10-l-balloon. Take a deep breath and blow hard into it. As long as it takes until you run out of breath. The balloon should now be at least one and a half times the size of your head (measure circumference at the largest point in each case). If it is smaller, your lung volume may be limited.

How fit are your lungs?

The bottle test

Whether your calculated lung volume corresponds to your actual capacity, you can find out with the bottle test. Depending on your height, fill 1.5-liter PET bottles and a sink with water. With a height of 1.80 meters, the minimum would be three bottles. Dip the first bottle, opening downward, into the filled sink so that no water escapes. Insert a tube into the opening of the bottle, take a deep breath and now blow air into the first bottle.

Is the first bottle empty or. filled with air, continue the process with the second bottle until you run out of breath. So hold your breath while exchanging bottles. It must not be inhaled or exhaled in between.

Using the air-filled bottles, you can now determine your actual lung volume.

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