How to Condition Your Lungs for Running


Running is one of the best cardiovascular exercises you can do. It helps build muscle tone, lowers your body mass index and gives you more energy. However, running does require some practice and conditioning. One of the greatest obstacles to running long distances is conditioning your lungs to be able to keep up with your legs. Lung conditioning can be painful and strenuous, but the only way to condition your lungs for running is to put on your running shoes and get outside.

  • Quit smoking if you smoke. Smoking can greatly reduce your lung capacity, which prevents you from running longer distances. If you do not smoke, do not start.

  • Do some light breathing exercises. Breathing exercises can condition your lungs to be able to do more without much effort. Sit up straight and inhale deeply. Hold the air in your lungs for about five seconds before releasing the air. As you exhale, allow the muscles in your stomach to relax. When you inhale allow the air to fill your chest. Repeat this for about five to 10 minutes per day as often as possible.

  • Build up the intensity of your cardiovascular workouts. If you run a mile now, try increasing that to a mile and a half or two miles. When you get to the point where you are used to running a certain distance, your lung capacity stops growing. Push yourself to new heights to increase lung capacity. Do not stay on one distance for more than a week. Even if you only increase the distance you run by a fraction of a mile, it will improve your lung capacity.

  • Start running at higher altitudes. While you still are doing your main lung exercise (swimming, cycling), try going to a higher altitude to run a mile or so. This will require your lungs to work harder, thus increasing their capacity. Do this as often as possible. If you do not live in an area where you have access to high altitudes, regular high-altitude training might not be a realistic goal.

  • Be consistent. Building your lung capacity cannot be achieved in a day. Keep at it every day for several weeks. You will slowly start to see your lung capacity increase. The longer you train, the greater your lung capacity will be in the end.

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  • Photo Credit running image by Byron Moore from
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