How to Measure Vital Capacity Between Male & Female Lungs


The total volume of air you can exhale is known as your vital capacity. You can measure your own vital capacity by measuring the air you can expel into a balloon, then comparing the balloon’s circumference with a chart. An estimate of your vital capacity can be found using a formula, which differs for men and women, and your actual capacity can be compared to the expected to determine if you are above or below your expected vital capacity.

Things You'll Need

  • Round party balloon
  • String
  • Ruler
  • Capacity chart
  • Calculator
  • Stretch the balloon several times to make it easier to inflate, then take a big breath in and blow into the balloon, inflating it as much as you can with one breath.

  • Pinch the end of the balloon before removing it from your mouth, and measure the circumference of the inflated balloon by wrapping a piece of string around the balloon, then measuring the length of string required to do this. The circumference measured should be around the balloon running perpendicular to the end you are blowing in, at its widest point.

  • Compare the circumference recorded with the chart at to find your vital capacity.

  • Repeat the process two more times.

  • Use the calculator to find the average vital capacity of your trials. This will give a more accurate reading than one recording.

  • Find your body surface area. Multiply your height in centimeters by your weight in kilograms, then divide it by 3,600. Find the square root of this number to identify your body's surface area.

  • Multiply your body surface area by 2,500 if you are a male to identify your expected vital capacity.

  • Multiply your body surface area by 2,000 if you are a female to identify your expected vital capacity.

  • A vital capacity well above expected indicates a person who is in excellent physical condition. An individual with a vital capacity well below expected is not breathing at optimal efficiency and should consider a workout regimen to improve his cardiovascular abilities.

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  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/ Images
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