It sounds pretty impressive to have lungs as big as a tennis court. But it’s true for all of us.
How are lungs as big as a tennis court?
The surface area of the lungs is about 70 to 100 square meters. That’s roughly the size of a tennis court. This is due to the intricate network of tiny air sacs called alveoli found within the lungs. The average adult has a total lung capacity of around 4-6 liters.
The alveoli are incredibly small. In fact, each one measures only about 0.3 millimeters in diameter. However, they are numerous. An estimated 480 million alveoli exist in the lungs of an average adult. These tiny air sacs are the places where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place. This is what allows us to breathe and provides our bodies with the oxygen needed to function.
Our amazing lungs
To help with the process of breathing, the lungs are surrounded by a thin layer of muscle called the diaphragm. When the diaphragm contracts, it pulls downward and creates a vacuum that allows air to flow into the lungs. When the diaphragm relaxes, it pushes upward and forces air out of the lungs.
Did you know that lungs are not identical in size or shape? The right lung is larger. It has three lobes, while the left lung is smaller and has only two lobes. This asymmetry allows for space to be made for the heart, which is located on the left side of the body.
The lungs are also the only organ that can float on water. That’s because they’re composed mostly of air, which is less dense.
Lungs even have the ability to regenerate and repair themselves. That’s due to the stem cells in the respiratory system. This regenerative capacity is especially important in combating respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.