A breath of fresh air
by Pamela LeBlanc
The folks at PowerLung call it weight training for your lungs.
Breathe into the blue, green or yellow plastic device, which resembles an asthma inhaler or part of a snorkel, for three or four minutes twice each day, and you’ll breathe easier when you race. PowerLung claims it can deliver a 30 percent improvement in lung function in three to four weeks.
Introduced four years ago, it’s the only one of the three devices discussed in this article that is designed to build the muscles used both to inhale and exhale.
“It’s the only product to give you inhale and exhale threshold resistance,” said Carolyn Morse, president of PowerLung. “It’s the only product that can strength-train, power-train and endurance-train your muscles for both inhale and exhale. The others may exercise, but they don’t train to do all three for both sets of muscles.”
Greg Wells, a doctoral student at the University of Toronto, conducted an independent study using PowerLung. Twenty elite swimmers trained with the device; 20 did not. Those who trained with it strengthened the muscles used to breathe, especially those used to exhale. But the improvements didn’t automatically transfer into performance until the swimmers were taught how to incorporate their better breathing into swimming. Then, Wells said, performance jumped.
PowerLung measures 8 inches and comes in a carrying case. The resistance level can be changed with the twist of a knob.