Everyone wants more of a good thing. No one has ever said “No, I don't think I would care for extra interest on my savings account, thank you very much!” in an indignant voice, as though the suggestion were preposterous. And, at least around my house (OK, at least me) no one has ever said “That is entirely too much bacon. Take back several slices.” In fact, we all are pleasantly surprised to receive more of a good thing, even if we didn't actually want more. More, after all, with exception of bills and flat tires, is always a good thing.

This holds true when discussing other non-bacon related things as well. Take health, for instance. No one has ever asked to be less healthy. You won't hear Steve say, “You know, Bob, I think it would be just incredible if I were to hyperventilate while carrying groceries to the house. In fact, the only thing better than that would be if I had to strain to put my shoes on in the morning!” No, you won't hear anything like that, because no one actually wants less healthy, less “feel good,” or even less of peaceful relaxation.

But many of us settle for it every single day of our lives. This goes beyond actual health conditions that many of us deal with daily. My feet, for instance, are always going to hurt; I can do things to mitigate the pain, but fused bones simply don't go away. Other concerns such as lung capacity, on the other hand, can almost always be improved. The reason for this is most of us don't truly understand how lungs work. Breathing is automatic, so we just let it happen while we are busy doing other things such as grocery shopping, tying shoes, and pursuing the next bacon sandwich.

When is the last time we took a deep breath? I mean a really deep breath like we are trying to pull the bottom out of a full milkshake cup? For most of us, the answer is “I don't remember.” Now we shouldn't feel bad (not much, anyway) because most people in the 21st century lead lives that are more sedentary than is good for us. And those of us who hit the treadmills or exercise bikes at the local gym? Surely these determined souls are deep breathing with every workout? The answer to that, surprisingly, is maybe. Breathing hard isn't quite the same as deep breathing. Granted, it’s better than what I do every time my wife tells me lunch is ready, but it still isn't quite the same.

Deep breathing is crucial to lung function and overall lung health. What they do automatically is honestly the bare minimum necessary to continue functioning. But lungs are designed to be challenged, to be expanded beyond their size when at rest, and when we challenge their capacity, they respond by gaining more capacity. And a really nifty benefit to challenging our lungs to get stronger is that we don't have to carry 500 pounds of groceries into the house in once because we are afraid we don't have enough breath to make more than one trip. Give it a little respect and the body can be quite cool that way.

Healthy lungs don't just benefit the Pantry Race 500, either. No, increased lung capacity gives us increased levels of oxygen in the blood, which in turn give us a lot more energy — or at least prolongs the time before exhaustion. It’s better for our hearts as well, because if we get plenty of oxygen then our hearts don't need to work as hard. Our brains benefit as well by feeling less “groggy,” and there have even been studies which connect oxygen levels with attention span and general ability to focus.

Exercise is a wonderful addition to everyone's health regimen, and has benefits all its own. But deep breathing isn't something we need to put off because we are too busy, too tired, or (guilty) feeling a little lazy. We can do it all the time, and should. And another benefit of increased lung capacity? It makes it easier to breathe through those masks we should all be wearing.

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