The lungs are one of the largest organs in the body and the key component of our respiratory system. At a rate of 12-25 breaths a minute, our lungs fill with air and deliver oxygen to the blood, which the heart pumps throughout the body’s muscles. When we exercise, our breathing rate increases to keep up with the oxygen demand. Lungs are the primary resident of the chest cavity and take up the majority of the space in our rib cages.

The diaphragm muscle is below the lungs. With the expansion and contraction of the diaphragm, the chest cavity (protected by our 12 sets of ribs) expands and contracts drawing in (inhale) and letting air out (exhale).

The air travels down our windpipe, or trachea, to the bronchi, and into the bronchioles tubes. Each of these tubes is approximately as thick as a human hair. At the end of these tiny tubes, are tiny air sacs called, alveoli – this is where the magic happens: oxygen is absorbed into the blood and wastes (carbon dioxide) are extruded out of the blood. The capillaries at the alveoli are approximately one blood cell thick! There are over 600 million alveoli in our lungs.

The exercise that you’ve started as part of your fitness plan will help keep your lungs strong and healthy. The environment in which we breathe is equally important to the health of our lungs. Please keep the air we breathe clean, and encourage yourself and those that you love not to smoke.

Return from Lungs to Human Body 101

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