"Before COVID-19, our lungs were things that we would not think twice about, apart from the breathlessness burn us non gym-goers feel when we attempt to do cardio"
I am currently sat with the diffuse light of day illuminating my room. I am listening to a random playlist that followed on from ‘You are my champion’ by Dante Bowe. A storm whipped up in the heavens above and a great outpouring of rain bounces off the pavement outside. Accompanied by the te te te of my keyboard, I would say that I am pretty content. Despite the ups and downs that lockdown poses, I would say that this moment, this very moment is a good one. It’s a great opportunity to take a couple of deep breaths, to take everything in. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in once more.
Before COVID-19, our lungs were things that we would not think twice about, apart from the breathlessness burn us non gym-goers feel when we attempt to do cardio, or the dreaded HIT work out. Now we have words like Pneumonia, ventilators and R noughts been thrown about on the news and Facebook pages. We see images of our key workers who are holding up the fort, and bewildered leaders trying to make sense of it all. Breathe. Now, I am no expert, but I would like to shed some light on this situation, let me introduce the damsel in distress, the lungs.
I’ll have you know that your lungs are one of the most important organs in the body, without which the most import processes in your body would not have the energy the begin. The primary function of your lungs involves gas exchange. It’s quite simple, the removal of Carbon dioxide (CO2) and the intake of Oxygen (O2).
Let us take a closer look at what happens when you breathe in and out. Firstly, the technical term for breathing in is ‘inspiration’ and breathing out is ‘expiration’. Fancy, I know. Inspiration and expiration are modulated by many things. E.g. emotions (fear), exercise and conscious thought. When you are in a rested state it is a something that is governed by respiratory centres in the brain called the medulla oblongata and the pons. These areas of the brain receive information about the concentration of O2 and CO2 in the blood after it has left the lungs. The information it receives determines how fast you breathe in and out so that the concentrations of CO2 and O2 in the blood are constant. Alright, I have a little experiment for you. I want you to give me 5 burpees (or any form of exercise you hate to do). Before you start, I want you to take notice of your breathing.
"your cells use the O2 from inspiration to form an energy compound called ATP, which is essential for everything"
5 burpees later, how do you feel? Tired, breathless? You should have noticed your breathing rate has increased. When you are exercising, your cells use the O2 from inspiration to form an energy compound called ATP, which is essential for everything, I mean everything in your body, including finishing off your last set of burpees. This process of making ATP is called Aerobic respiration, and it produces CO2. So, if our cells are using up O2 and producing CO2, your body compensates the high CO2 levels by getting you to breathe in and out at a higher rate.
One of the sad truths about COVID-19 is that it took a virus for us to realise the important things in life. All the things money cannot buy that are essential to life. Like our lungs, we have people in our lives who are present and constant in their function. These people essential to your wellbeing and happiness, but we often take their presence for granted. So as the days come and go, and you breathe in and out, remember that you have life. Remember that your happiness is not found in the money, clothes, or likes on Instagram. For me, it is in the experiences I share, the people we sit and laugh with, the meals that we have or the house party or zoom calls I make. Breathe.
"And in the words of Aretha ‘say a little prayer’"
I have a task for you, I want you to write 3 things that you are thankful for. And in the words of Aretha ‘say a little prayer’. I believe that being thankful shifts your eyes from your current predicament and allows you to set your eyes on God; the God who perfects the pathways of even the simplest organism. I believe thankfulness says to God “things aren’t great right now, but I trust that you’re good and that you’re doing good”. I will do mine right now:
I am thankful for my family
I am thankful that I have a roof over my head
I am thankful that I am alive
What are yours?
So class what have we learned today? We now know that our lungs are essential in the production of ATP through the inspiration of O2 and expiration of CO2. We have learned our ventilation rate can be modulated by various factors such as exercise. Finally, we have learned to appreciate health, life and the people around us.
See you on the next post!