Limited movement

Why is limited movement a risk factor for healthy lungs?

If you are not able to move by yourself or have limited movement, you are at greater risk of respiratory problems.

This is because:

  • you are at greater risk of postural changes that may impact on your breathing
  • you are less likely to breathe deeply enough to clear your chest

How does moving help your lungs?

When you move, you breathe more deeply, especially if you move enough to become slightly out of breath.  This means that large amounts of air goes in and out of your lungs.  When you are breathing deeply like this, air goes all the way to the bottom of your lungs and fills all of the tiny airways.  

graphic showing healthy lungs

Everyone has mucus in their lungs, when you take deep breaths, air gets behind this mucus and you cough it up and clear your chest.

graphic showing phlegm on lungs

If you do not move enough to get out of breath, you will only breathe very shallow breaths.  This means that air only ever fills the top parts of your lungs.  The mucus then stays in your lungs where it could lead to a chest infection.

Non-urgent advice: If you have limited movement what can help you to stay healthy?

It is important to find activities that will help you to fill your lungs with air fully.  See the breathing games and activities section for ideas of things that you can do.

Laughing, rolling, singing and blowing bubbles are some things that can help you to get out of breath if you have limited movement.

image of young girl in wheelchair and her support worker laughing