Fuel your workouts with proper breathing

At Heart Fit, we are constantly stressing the importance of proper breathing during your workouts and while at home. Breathing controls so much of what happens in terms of tension in your body. When you breathe poorly like so many of us do it causes us to tense up and not have the fundamental oxygen to support our proper movement and high intensity workouts. With any fitness endeavor everything should start but hardly does with knowledge about physiology. 

When you are breathing properly during your workouts you are essentially giving your body access to fresh and brand new fuel. I guarantee you will run yourself into a wall if you are not fueling yourself properly during your workouts. So what is the correct way to breathe? Diaphragmatic breathing is the most reflexive and natural way. Breathing thru your nasal passages increases CO2 saturation in the blood and will slow down your breathing rate. This way of breathing will also move air into the lower lungs where there is better blood flow. When you’re breathing thru your mouth your heart rate goes up and your breath rate becomes shallow. Now when you start to exercise hard you are essentially giving your alveoli fuel. These alveoli are air sacs where gas exchange takes place and if you want efficient exchange you should be breathing thru your nose or symptoms of failure will be felt sooner. Now during really hard efforts at maximum intensity you will need to breathe thru your mouth but during bouts of recovery you want a return to nasal breathing as quickly as possible before your next hard effort.

Good breathing, according to the standards of medical texts and the World Health Organization is about four to six liters per minute. Good breathing is like good nutrition, it meets the body’s needs and provides optimal conditions for health. It doesn’t mean the more you breathe the better off you are, any more than the key to good nutrition is not eating more. When you are more efficient at breathing, the less breaths per minute you need to take. Twelve breaths per minute would be the upper limit of what you should be breathing. Less that than is better. When doing focused, relaxed breathing, you should be able to reduce your breaths down to four. So to recap people with good breathing always breathe thru their nose. Mouth breathing tends to make you over breathe and the body responds by restricting breathing even more. It does this by making more mucous and creating swelling in the nasal passages and spasm in the muscles of the bronchi.  For free research based fitness and program design advice check out our YouTube channel at heartfitfmt.com.  

Jordan Nichols