Increase lung capacity

Edited by Ephraim, Charmed, Nate Pepperell, Eng and 16 others

In this article we will discuss how you can increase your lung capacity. When you work on improving the efficiency of your lung capacity, the results will increase the number of activities you can participate in, and the length of time you are able to spend on activities, as this conditioning will also improve your physical endurance. There are a number of ways to increase your lung capacity, and it may not be as difficult as you think. Just a few helpful tips, and you're on your way to better health. It will take a commitment from you, as all of these techniques need to be performed daily and you need to successfully master these techniques to achieve the expected results.

  1. 1
    When taking a breath, breathe deeply, whether or not you are performing an activity
    This will increase the amount of air your lungs can take in. It's similar to when you are working out, and you are trying to slow down your heart rate. You do not need to be working out in order to train your lungs. Any time during the day, breathe deep, so eventually, it will become second nature. Now that you understand the rewards of that exercise, exhale slowly and fully. This will increase the effectiveness of not only this breathing technique, but any activity you do. Keep your abdomen relaxed so your diaphragm can stretch out naturally. If you tighten your abdomen, your diaphragm will not fully extend. If done properly, your abdomen will expand on its own after the diaphragm stretches. This allows your diaphragm to completely fill, thus filling your lungs to their capacity at the same time. The result is more oxygen in your lungs. While doing this breathing technique, it's good to hold out your arms, like you are going to hug someone, as it opens up your chest, allowing for more air.
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  2. 2
    Other than breathing deeply you need to inhale deeply enough that at least 80 percent of your lungs are filled
    You can measure this percentage by taking a breather and still having enough room for comfort. When inhaling, do not hold any air in your cheeks, for this is loose air in your mouth instead of in your lungs. When you take in too much air, in you'll notice your muscles also tighten up. If you don't breathe properly when performing, and take appropriate breaks, you might pass out. Also make sure you do not puff your cheeks out. You only need to work the muscles in your body, not the muscles in your face.
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  3. 3
    While holding your breath, you can put your face in water, as water will slow down your heart rate
    Because your heart rate will be slower, you will end up holding your breath longer than you think. This is why swimmers have excellent lung capacity; their heart rate slows down under the water, allowing them to breathe more efficiently. When your heart rate decreases, it increases your lung capacity for. The colder the water, the more effective this technique is.
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  4. 4
    The classic to hold your breath is to count
    It's a good way to increase your lung capacity. While you are holding your breath under water, count, and keep track of the number you reach, before you need to come up for air. This gives you a challenge for the next time - a number to surpass.
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  5. 5
    After inhaling deeply, exhale as slowly as you can
    You want the air to come out in a steady stream. During this exercise, do not rush your breath, but take as much time as you can. This will ensure your lungs don't close due to your releasing the air to fast. Push the air out quickly, and you will basically end up where you started, with no improvement. Repeat this technique to increase your lung capacity, and keep your lungs in good shape. This is a technique you can do more than once a day, but don't overdo this technique, as it's too much is hard on your lungs.
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  6. 6
    Exercise in the water whenever you can
    Not only because swimming improves your lung capacity, but also because exercises you normally perform outside the water, is even more effective performed in the water, due to the resistance the water puts on your body. Just walking in water is a good workout. Jumping jacks and lunges are good, but instead of weights, try using empty bleach bottles, as the added resistance in the water is beneficial. These exercises will help to increase your lung capacity and build your stamina, while keeping your heart rate down. They will also contribute to your strength training. The more you exercise in the water the more your lung capacity will improve, resulting in a better-conditioned respiratory system.
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  7. 7
    If possible, work out in the water for an hour and a half
    The longer you last in the water, the better lung capacity you will have. Swimmers lungs use less than ¾ of their lung's capacity, which is the reason their lungs are in better shape than most other athletes.
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  8. 8
    Work out in varied elevations, if possible
    If you have access to mountains, or other locations that are higher than where you normally are. The increased elevation will cause you to breathe deeper than at a lower elevation. The higher you are, the thinner the oxygen is. Also, as you become acclimatized to the thinner air you'll begin to build up your lung capacity making it more efficient. It will be much easier to breathe when you return to your usual elevation.
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  9. 9
    Always breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth
    The lungs are crucial for maintaining your energy level. The nostrils, being smaller than the mouth, slows down the escape of the air taken in, giving the lungs more time to take valuable oxygen from each breath. Professional runners use this technique when training and it becomes their usual form of breathing.
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  10. 10
    Breathing in through your nose and holding it as long as you can, will create better lung capacity
    Your brain will tell you when you can no longer hold your breath, but challenge yourself to hold it past that point. When releasing your breath, don't force the air out quickly, but exhale slowly, pushing every last bit of air out of your lungs.
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  11. 11
    As well as using this technique, playing an instrument, especially a woodwind or brass instrument, will also help you to expand your lung capacity, hone a talent, and enjoy the music
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What is Lung Oxygen Capacity?

Oxygen is also known as VO2 max. Technically speaking, it is defined as the maximum amount of oxygen you use within your body, and millimeters per kg (kilogram) to body weight per minute. This can be found as liters as well (per minute). For example, an athlete that has VO2 or 3.5 liters/minute, and closes to 50ml per kg. per minute. The athlete, Lance Armstrong, is a racing cyclist with an oxygen capacity in the 80s.

You can have your lung capacity measured by going to a physiological laboratory and requesting a VO2 max test or field test. Examples of these tests are: Six-minute bicycle test and college step test, and even the 1-mile jogging test.

Know Why Your Lungs Have Limits Regarding Capacity

There are several reasons your lungs might be limited. The first might be issues with your muscle tissues' ability to use oxygen from the lungs and heart. If you have a low (not extremely low) level of mitochondria, it will limit the capacity of your lungs.

The second reason is either your heart or lungs are not providing sufficient oxygen, or efficiently transporting the necessary amounts of oxygen nourishing your entire body, and your muscle tissues. Your heart contains oxygen, but if your heart is not pumping enough each beat, this will limit your oxygen capacity.

Certain illnesses will jeopardize the capacity of your lungs. Asthma, Emphysema, Lung Cancer, High Blood Pressure, Obesity, Pneumonia - even a cold will affect your ability to breathe properly.

Learn How to Increase Your Lung Oxygen Capacity

Performing an exercise for at least 5 minutes a day (hard exercise, will help to increase your lung capacity significantly. Increase your lung capacity by cycling, jogging and basic exercise, as they are all helpful conditioning the lungs.

  1. 1
    Warm up your body before vigorous exercise by pedaling for 5 minutes, or stretching
    It's important to 'oil' your joints.
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  • 2
    Do a recovery for 30 seconds, after every 60 seconds of pedaling.
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  • 3
    After the 30-second recovery, do hard pedaling for 5 minutes, but never push yourself beyond what you can safely do
    If you cannot do hard pedaling for 5 minutes, make it 3 minutes or even less. You can always increase your time with every session. Baby steps are better. Performing the suggested exercises to increase your lung capacity 3 times a week will help get your lungs into shape. The increased capacity will make subsequent exercises seem easier. It will also burn calories and give you increased energy.
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  • How To Know If Your Lung Capacity Has Decreased

    If you've climbed a series of stairs recently, and ended up sweating, panting and aching muscles, then your lungs are not in good shape. This is a simple way to test your lungs capacity, and it may be difficult to admit you're compromising your health.

    The health of your body is in your hands. It's your decision on how well to take care of yourself, and you, in they end, will either reap the benefits or be stuck struggling with the results of your lifestyle.

    Questions and Answers

    Can I do jumping jacks to increase lung capacity?

    Yes. Jumping jacks are a form of a cardiovascular exercise. Cardiovascular exercises increase the body's demand for oxygen, thereby increasing heart rate and respiration. Cardiovascular exercise also helps to increase and improve lung capacity.

    By increasing your respiration, you are breathing more rapidly and inhale more air containing more oxygen atoms that will be properly distributed throughout your body. You are also maximizing your lung's capacity to accommodate the increase of volume of air you are inhaling.

    If you are just simply breathing normally without doing any strenuous activities, your lung capacity will stays the same or in some instances, will decrease. As an athlete demonstrates, exercise improves your lungs so get out there and exercise.

    Does holding your breath increase lung capacity?

    Not polluted

    Yes, you can increase lung capacity by holding your breath. You are training your lungs to take in as much oxygen as they can hold. This trains your lungs to use the oxygen it absorbs as efficiently possible before you exhale. However, you will have to perform these breathing exercises gradually. First, make sure that the air condition where you are going to do your breathing exercises is healthy; otherwise you will defeat the purpose. Second, inhale deeply starting with a count of 10 seconds, then work your way up to 20 seconds, depending on what your lungs can handle. Then exhale, also slowly. Gradually increase your inhale and exhale count, and over time, you will improve your lung capacity.

    Yes, by holding your breath you will be expanding your lungs, thus increasing your lung capacity. This is something swimmers do when they hold their breath underwater or simply swim, which is why they have such great lung capacity.

    How do professional runners increase their lung capacity?

    High intensity swimming exercises?

    Professional runners increase their lung capacity. All athletes inflate their lungs about an inch more than non-athletes. The main reason is the constant physical activity they perform, at very intense levels. With an increased lung capacity, athletes are able to take in more oxygen that will supply their brain and muscles. This regular flow of oxygen enables them to improve their reaction time, alertness, and overall health.

    Professional runners increase their lung capacity by doing the following:

    • Healthy eating and living healthy. It's a must for runners to make sure they have a healthy body. They eat foods rich in Vitamin C, E, beta-carotene, and iron. These nutrients improve their lung capacity. They also watch their weight so that they can always breathe easily. They avoid smoking to prevent any damage to their lungs and adversely affecting their body's ability to absorb oxygen. Hydration is also vital to thin out the mucus in their lungs. Thickened mucus impedes breathing.
    • Regular physical activity improves the strength of the body. Runners spend a lot of time improving their strength through high-intensity exercises. This makes the oxygen delivery more efficient.
    • They also perform interval breathing. This involves a high level of effort in a short span of time (20 seconds to about 5 minutes) for every repetition. Deep breathing exercises help to improve a runner's lung capacity as well. Slowly breathing in through the nose, and exhaling through the nose, while expanding the chest and diaphragm. This is an efficient method to increase lung capacity. Engaging in yoga is an excellent way to combine exercise and deep breathing.

    Professional runners have their own personalized training regimen to properly increase their lung capacity. Below are some of the most commonly performed exercises to promote increased lung capacity:

    1. Jogging a few kilometers every day.

    One of the best ways to increase a professional runners' lung capacity is to jog a few kilometers every day. By performing a daily jog of several kilometers, your body will adapt to the increase in oxygen demand, and increase the lung capacity in order to meet the increase. This distributes more oxygen to the body.

    2. Hiking or exercising in higher altitudes.

    Another effective method used by professional runners to increase their lung capacity, is performing exercises in places with a higher altitude. The thinner air contains a less concentration of oxygen, making it harder to breathe. This gives your lungs a really good workout, and when you return to your usual altitude, it will be much easier to breathe.

    3. Underwater breathing exercises.

    Another method used by professional runners is performing underwater breathing exercises. The professional runner tries to hold his/her breath while under water for several seconds, up to a minute. This exercise actually makes the lungs expand to their maximum limit, leading to an increase in lung capacity.

    4. Jumping jack exercises.

    -This is also one of the best exercises performed by professional runners. In this activity, they are killing two birds with one stone. By performing jumping jacks, they are increasing their lung capacity, and strengthening their leg muscles at the same time, making it one of the best exercise by professional runners. Jumping rope is also very effective.

    To sum it up, the above mentioned tips are some of the methods used by professional runners to increase their lung capacity.

    How do you pass the lung capacity test for the military?

    As you know, the military has very strict guidelines for physical fitness and this includes the functionality of your lungs. Before you enter the service, through medical documents, you must show you have a healthy respiratory system. If you've ever had a history of asthma, you are required to present a medical certificate that proves you have not had an asthma attack since turning 13 years old. Even if you produce a waiver stating this, you may still be required to have another medical exam, another application to a special area of the military, and another review by the medical authorities. Below are the steps you have to take to pass the lung function test for the military:

    • Eat healthy and live healthy. Doing so will enable you to get through the rigorous physical strains of the lung function test. Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol. Smoking damages your lungs, and drinking alcohol dehydrates your cells.
    • Provide necessary medical records. These will give the authorities a clear history of your respiratory health. You will be instructed what specific papers you'll need to provide.
    • Complete DD Form 2807-2 (Medical Prescreen of Medical History Report). Here you have to provide information about your respiratory health, including your childhood.
    • Complete Form 40-1-15-E (Supplemental Health Screening Questionnaire) together with DD Form 2807-1. You should indicate any respiratory issues such as asthma, the treatments that you've undergone, and the frequency of the episodes.
    • Undergo a special consultation. This can have the same schedule as your physical examination. You may undergo the PFT (Pulmonary Function Test) that requires spirometry results before and after physical exertion.
    • Cooperate in the medical exam. Your healthcare provider will guide you. Your entire chest and your lungs will also be examined.

    There is no lung capacity test in order for you to join the military. Also you can increase your lung capacity for the military by practicing the mile run in order to help you gain better lung capacity.

    Is there a way to stretch out your lungs?

    Jmgf BalloonBlowing.jpg

    Yes, there are certain steps that can be taken to help stretch the lungs, and they involve a lot of exercise. The lungs are like a set of balloons - the more that you stretch them out, the more the more air they will be able to contain.

    The most efficient way to stretch your lungs is to perform deep breathing exercises. Below are the most common types of lung exercises to properly stretch the lungs:

    1. Deep breathing exercise. To perform this type of lung exercise, simply breathe in more air than normal, fully expanding your lungs, and breathe out slowly, then repeat the process 10 to 15 times. Inhale through the nose, and exhale through your mouth.

    2. Deep breathing and holding the breath exercise. Another type of lung exercise is to breathe in more air, hold the air for a few seconds and release it slowly. Repeat the process increasing the time you hold your breath.

    In these two different lung exercises, you are pushing your lungs to expand to their maximum, thereby stretching your lung cells, leading to the increase in lung capacity.

    How to increase diaphragm capacity?


      • For this exercise, breathe in a huge amount of air through the mouth, dip in the water and while still underwater breathe the air out slowly through the nose. Most athletic swimmers use this exercise. It helps build their tolerance during swim competitions. The water acts as a resistance against the body, and pushes the body to work harder to supply oxygen to the blood.
        Jmgf waterbreathing.jpg
      • Push the body to perform a regular 30-minute workout in order to increase the lung's capacity. Aerobic exercises such as cycling, dancing, jogging and swimming, are some of the best, and most enjoyable ways to increase lung capacity and lose weight at the same time.
        Jmgf Cardio Exercise.jpg
      • Environments that are high in elevation have less oxygen in the air, so working out in these places will also have the same effect on the body as working out in water. The difference, however, lies in the force being exerted during the hiking process. The hiking trip can be tough on the body, but it will do wonders to increase the lung and diaphragm capacity.
        Jmgf High Elevation.jpg
    • The same techniques used in singing, are the same ones applicable to developing the capacity of the diaphragm. Singing exercises are perfect for practicing proper breathing. One way to determine that proper breathing is being done is by observing the shoulders when breathing. The shoulders should not move up and down when inhaling.
      Jmgf Proper Breathing.jpg
      • Stand straight, take a deep breath, then bend over at your waist and reach for your toes while exhaling until all the air is out of your lungs. Slowly resume standing position while stretching the arms over the head, inhale as much air as possible and hold the air for about 20 seconds. Repeat at least four times.
      • To try this, inhale three small breaths through your nose and hold. Next, inhale again and raise your arms in front of your body at a shoulder level. Then, inhale small breaths again while extending the arms to open wide and over the head. Lastly, exhale all the air and resume to your original position. Repeat this exercise for at least 8-10 times.
      • Lie down on your back and place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Take a deep and slow breath through your nose; using your diaphragm to draw the air in. Watch as you do this. The hand on your abdomen should be the one to rise with your inhale, and not the hand on your chest. This is an indication that proper breathing is being done. Hold the air in for about 10 seconds and exhale all the air via your mouth - while counting. You should be able to feel your stomach muscles squeezing as you expel all the air. Repeat the process five times.
      • Release all the air from your lungs, inhale and release it on the count of two. The next time you exhale, hold your breath for the count of three. Repeat again until the eighth number is reached. Repeat this process.

    Some of the breathing exercises here can be used in the water, so get into water that's about neck deep, and then begin practicing these helpful breathing exercises to increase the lung capacity. The water resistance causes compression in the body, so the need for more oxygen will be compensated for by the body working harder, and pumping more oxygen into the blood.

    The best physical exercise that you can perform in order to increase your lung capacity, condition your diaphragm and improve your breathing is swimming.

    Does your heart rate have anything to do with your lung capacity?

    Yes, your heart rate has a physiological effect on your lung capacity. One good example is when you go to places with a higher altitude. Because of the thin air and less oxygen present at high altitudes, your body will need enough oxygen to properly meet it's normal physiologic function, thus, it will undergo a homeostatic change just to balance the low oxygen present in the body by increasing your heart rate and your respiratory rate. The increased heart and respiratory rate will greatly increases your lung capacity.

    The answer is yes. Your heart rate can affect your lung capacity. An increase in your heart rate, referred to as Tachycardia, means a fast heart rate. Your body needs more oxygen to properly meet its oxygen demand caused by physical workout or caused by the presence of less oxygen concentration in the air in high altitude places.

    When the oxygen concentration in your body drops due to the above factors, your body will automatically adjust and regulate this by undergoing a homeostatic state - giving a signal to your brain to release hormones that will help to increase your heart rate.

    An increase in heart rate means that your heart pumps faster than usual to compensate for having less oxygen in the body, thereby delivering more blood to your system. The blood contains oxygen needed by the cells and organs throughout the body. When doing a physical workout, the cells in your body use oxygen to maintain their proper function.

    An increase in heart rate also increases your respiratory rate, which makes you breathe more rapidly to take in more oxygen. By breathing more rapidly, you are also exercising your lungs, which in turn increases your lung capacity in order to accommodate the volume of air you are inhaling.

    To sum it up, heart rate can affect the lung capacity of a person.

    How to train for lung capacity test?

    The increase in lung capacity is a physiological response to meet the body's demand for oxygen. To explain it simpler, when your body gets little oxygen due to physical exercises or due to thin air in high altitude places, your heart rate and breathing will increase in an attempt to receive more oxygen, and to transport the oxygen to all the parts of the body. The cells in your body require oxygen to do their jobs properly. Because of this homeostatic change in the body, the lung capacity also increases to accommodate the larger volume of air, needed by the body.

    Here's a sample diagram to show why lung capacity increases in order:

    1. Lack of oxygen (due to exercise or high altitude).

    2. Your body detects the low oxygen and triggers a homeostatic response.

    3. This increases your heart and respiratory rate.

    4. It increases blood volume and circulation in the body.

    4. Thereby increasing your lung capacity.

    5. Your body will now receive the oxygen it needs.

    The best way for you to train for a lung capacity test is to practice holding your breath for a certain length of time. This will help to expand your lung capacity. You can do this by holding your breath underwater in order to help train your lungs. Most people who swim have very good lung capacity.

    Inhale completely to fill your lungs?

    Inhaling completely by taking in as much air as you can to fill your lungs, and then exhaling completely, several times daily, will greatly enhance your lung capacity. Your alveoli, which are the small air sacs located inside your lungs, will expand to their full size during your deep breathing exercises. When you perform deep breathing exercises daily, your alveolar efficiently improves in elasticity, allowing them to stretch their maximum size as they fill with air during your deep inhalations. On the contrary, when you are not performing daily deep breathing exercises, your alveoli will atrophy and weaken their elasticity, and your lungs will function at a moderate or minimal capacity. In general, inhaling completely, filling your lungs with air as you perform your daily deep breathing exercises, will help you your lung capacity.

    Should I use my stomach or chest to breathe?

    Proper breathing or respiration is important to ensure optimal body functions. In this regard, what is better or healthier as far as respiratory functions is concerned - chest breathing or stomach breathing?

    Chest breathing is described as a shallow or quick type of respiration, which involves only the upper lobes of the lungs. There is minimal usage of the lungs as the chest muscles expand and contract accordingly, without the help of the abdominal walls. With the use of the chest for breathing, there is less amount of oxygen delivered to the bloodstream. This type breathing is not recommended as it is even linked to "hyperventilation" or "dyspnea" which is associated with breathing difficulties.

    Stomach breathing, commonly referred to as breathing from the diaphragm or belly, makes use of your entire lungs in the respiration process, ensuring that adequate oxygen is delivered; thus nourishing and replenishing different systems and tissues of the body. The inhalation and exhalation of deep breathing becomes a slow and steady process that ensures there is enough oxygen intake and carbon dioxide release to strike that healthy balance. In this process, the abdominal muscles expand and contract, while there is minimal expansion in the chest muscles. This is the recommended way to perform proper breathing, which inevitably converts more oxygen into robust energy, which can be used for all kinds of activities.

    I can't even run around the block, and I'm trying to be a runner, I was wondering if it has anything to do with my lung capacity? I smoked for 20+ years but successfully quit 7 months ago?

    I was Just wondering if I will ever be able to run a long distance.

    Congratulations! You quit! Be patient. Give yourself a bit of time. You've had over twenty years to damage your lungs, and only seven months to heal them. It takes up to nine months for your lungs to recover after you quit smoking. Practice the exercises and tips mentioned in this article. Work slowly to build up your breathing endurance.

    Trying to pass a PFT for the air force and I have Asthma. Help?

    I haven't had an attack since about 13 and only use my inhaler when I need it. Which isn't often. I grew up playing football, lacrosse, basketball, baseball, ran track. I've also played instruments etc. I shouldn't be limited in the Air Force but I want to ensure I can get through.

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    When I do more meditation and energy related pranayama, that day, people around me start picking quarrels.

    For some reason, they are provoked by me for no reason. I am discouraged to resume the next day. The problem is, I am not able to get more energy.

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    Increase results on a pulmonary function test?

    I typically haven't been doing well on my pulmonary function test for years. I am a 29 year old and a smoker (off and on since 19). My overall score has been around 80%. I have scored around 80% for years. I don't really work out, and I need to improve my scores to maintain my full duty status in the fire department. What can I do that would improve my scores quickly, and maintain the results? I have tried: I have reduced my smoking, and have made several attempts to quit. I also bought a power lung device to assist in improving my FEV1. I think it was caused by: Probably smoking and inactivity

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    What kind of activities could you do to increase your vital capacity for a hike up the mountain?

    What kind of activities could you do to increase your vital capacity for a hike up the mountain? I have tried: None. I think it was caused by: None

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    Hi, my grandfather is 85 yeas old and his lungs are not working properly. Any natural tips to improve his everyday breathing ability would be more than welcome.

    Hi, my grandfather is 85 yeas old and his lungs are not working properly. Any natural tips to improve his everyday breathing ability would be more than welcome. I have tried: Oxygen machine, 6 times a day, plus a lot of inhalers. I think it was caused by: Ageing

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    If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


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