Consider this; You may be breathing the wrong way.
Imagine gearing up for a long run or for a day out training with your friends. In preparation you eat healthfully and you dress well. When you show up you are well hydrated and do a proper warm up before getting down to business. You begin your higher pace movement and your heart rate goes up. You feel your body’s demand for oxygen increase. You open your mouth and start gasping bigger and more frequent mouthfuls of air. Sounds pretty typical, right?
Athletes and weekend warriors alike invest a lot of time and energy into maintaining their bodies, so when they get out to play, they can play hard. What if we told you one of the final missing links to your perfect training regiment was fixing the way you breath? Emerging science shows that mouth breathing is not just inefficient, but it may actually be harming us.
This might be a critical read for you mouth breathers out there. Breathing through your nose, nasal breathing, is proving to be objectively better for your overall health. Nasal breathing techniques are showing to be especially powerful for athletes.
In this article we are going to summarize some important points of information we recently learned from the book “Breath, The New Science of a Lost Art” which details the numerous benefits that nasal breathing holds for the human body. We recommend the read. Click here to see it on Amazon.
Breath through the nose.
Our breath first processed through the nose. The nose is a miraculous filter lined with tiny hairs called cilia. These little cilia have many functions, like how they filter, humidify and warm or cool the air before it enters the lungs. It is estimated that cilia protect our bodies against about 20 billion particles of foreign matter every day!
THE BENEFITS OF NASAL BREATHING
The book’s author, James Nestor, claims a number of benefit form nasal breathing. The biggest take away for athletes was that nasal breathing regulates the rate at which you are able to breath. This may sound counter intuitive but Nestor shows that most individuals breathe too often or too quickly when breathing through your mouth. This causes an imbalance between your oxygen and CO2 levels. You need a well balanced blood-gas mixture to maintain an appropriate PH balance in your blood. Both O2 and CO2 play a role in properly replenishing your cells with O2 and removing harmful waste products like lactic acid. Breathing too often or too quickly can actually place too much O2 in your blood.
Breathing through your nose forces you to breath more slowly, which will result in a better blood-gas balance. This will increase your cardio vascular endurance, even while taking in less over all breathe. A proper CO2 level, around 10% says Nestor, will result in a better cardiovascular performance in athletes.
The book also details how nasal breathing can reduce stress, increase focus, and aid in our circadian rhythms. The book even claims that nasal breathing can change the bone shapes and densities in your face and jaw!
The book also mentions Wim Hof breathing methods and some yogic breathing methods.
Nestor’s book provided a number of examples and studies. If this sounds interesting we encourage you to pick up a copy, here is a link again. https://amzn.to/32shIUS
Here are a few more of the benefits of nasal breathing:
- The lungs actually extract oxygen from the air during exhalation, in addition to inhalation. Because the nostrils are smaller than the mouth, air exhaled through the nose creates a back flow of air (and oxygen) into the lungs. And because we exhale more slowly through the nose than we do though the mouth, the lungs have more time to extract oxygen from the air we’ve already taken in.
- When there is proper oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange during respiration, the blood will maintain a balanced pH. If carbon dioxide is lost too quickly, as in mouth breathing, oxygen absorption is decreased, which can result in dizziness or even fainting.
- Air that we inhale through the nose passes through the nasal mucosa, which stimulates the reflex nerves that control breathing. Mouth breathing bypasses the nasal mucosa and makes regular breathing difficult, which can lead to snoring, breath irregularities and sleep apnea.
- Breathing through the nose forces us to slow down until proper breath is trained; therefore, proper nose breathing reduces hypertension and stress It also helps prevent us from overexerting ourselves during a workout
- Our nostrils and sinuses filter and warm/cool air as it enters our bodies.
- Our sinuses produce nitric oxide, which, when carried into the body through the breath, combats harmful bacteria and viruses in our bodies, regulates blood pressure and boosts the immune system.
- Mouth breathing accelerates water loss, contributing to dehydration.
- The nose houses olfactory bulbs, which are direct extensions of part of the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is responsible for many functions in our bodies, particularly those that are automatic, such as heartbeat, blood pressure, thirst, appetite and sleep cycles. The hypothalamus is also responsible for generating chemicals that influence memory and emotion.
- The increased oxygen we get through nasal breath increased energy.
On your next run, see how far you can go with only nasal breathing.
Listen for when you or friends mouth breath around you. You may be surprised at how often we all default to mouth breathing!
Call “Mouth Check” when you notice your friends mouth breathing and not nasal breathing.