More Energy, Better Performance, Smoother Skin, Weight Loss! The Benefits to Breathing Right.


breathe11Go into any gym and pay attention to the breathing of exercisers. You’ll see people with their mouths open, out of breath and gasping for air.

Let’s step back and analyze proper breathing for exercise.

Activity raises your heart rate and your muscles cells need oxygen, which is exchanged through the lungs. When you increase your activity, it makes sense that you need more oxygen to meet the demands of your working body. And breathing supplies oxygen the needed oxygen.

You have two options to get your oxygen intake. One is through your mouth and the second is through your nose. One would think that there is no difference how oxygen is supplied. Yet there is.

Mouth vs. Nose breathing – What are the benefits and downfalls?

First, let’s look at breathing during exercise. During exercise, we have two basic forms of breathing: chest/clavicular and nose/diaphragmatic breathing.

Chest and clavicular breathing means that the breath is taken in mainly in the chest though expanding and lifting of the ribcage via the intercostal muscles. This action requires work and a higher heart rate to perform.

Nose/diaphragmatic breathing is the most efficient form of breathing. The diaphragm drops into the abdominal cavity to give the lungs room to expand and draw air deep into the lungs. This action pulls air into the lower lobes of the lungs. As exercise physiologist John Douillard explains in his book Body, Mind and Sport, “the blood supply to the lower lobes is gravity dependent, so that while we are upright there is far more blood available for oxygen exchange in the lower parts of the lung.” During inhalation, the diaphragm contracts and your stomach expands which draws the air into those lower lung regions for optimum oxygen exchange. And to get rid of CO2 residue, your abdominal muscles contract to slightly to get rid of it.

Hyperventilation results from rapid mouth breathing. Oxygen is taken in at rapid speed, which cannot be exchanged for CO2 fast enough. This creates hyperoxygenation, which can result into dizziness or fainting. And hyperventilation is typically associated with stress such as anxiety and fear. Try to hyperventilate with your nose. This is almost impossible. Air entered through the nose is filtered, warmed up, more refined and in a rarefied stream compared to gulps of air gasped through the mouth.

Babies give you a great indication what is right. If you have a child, think back. How did your baby breathe naturally? Through the nose or the mouth? It will be through the nose. The shift from nose breathing to mouth breathing seems to be triggered only by stress. From early on, we are conditioned to nose-breathe, yet at the first sign of stress–including exercise stress later in life–we shift into emergency mode of breathing, through the mouth,

Studies on breath rate during a bicycle stress test found that when the exercise load increased, the breath rate went up by using mouth breathing. The breath rate rose to 47 breaths per minute. Then the same individuals where tested again, using nose breathing. The average breath rate was 14 breaths per minute. Now keep in mind that the average breath rate at rest is about 18 breaths per minute.

Breathing through the nose creates alpha brain waves. These are the same brain waves that are produced during meditations, and generate a feeling of comfort and relaxation.

Ever felt strained after exercise? Breathing through the nose during exercise gives you a calm, relaxed and joyful mind-body connection. Try to experience nose breathing. You can just try it right now by doing following:

1) Take 3 breaths in through your nose and exhale

2) Than take 3 breathes in though your mouth and exhale.

3) Repeat 10 times.

What difference do you feel? Which one feels better to you? Most likely you will feel deeper breaths through the nose. Does it feel more comfortable to you?

An additional mental benefit of nose breathing is that you are not creating additional stress. And any kind of additional stress affects how your body and your metabolism perform.

I have touched just the tip of the iceberg on the benefits of nose vs. mouth breathing. There is much more. And proper breathing is an important component for enjoying exercise, activity and performance.

What does this have to do with weight loss? Everything. If you don’t enjoy your activity program because of a lack of mind body connection, you will find it hard to stick to it. Proper breathing during exercise rejuvenates you and doesn’t drain you. And who wants to continue exercise for weight management, body improvements and to look younger longer if you feel drained by it?

Stay focused,


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Categories : Exercise



lol, wow, that excercise was great. when I was in track they always told me to breath through my nose as well, and exhale through my mouth. It was to give me a rhythm to work with, but also because it was a more effecient method of breathing as well.

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