One major benefit of all aerobic activities that raise the heart rate from resting to 120-180 beats per minute for at least 15-20 minutes is that the body actually creates new oxygen-processing capillaries at the end of our blood vessels.
Doing aerobic exercises on a regular basis, over a few months, will make most people’s bodies able to work harder longer as increased oxygen supplies flow into the new capillary systems.
Learning to swim as a kid at the YMC without mouth breathing was tough.
It took an I can mindset and practice. We were allowed to cheat by exhaling into the water through our noses and breathing in through our mouths. But we all knew the goal was seamless, constant, nasal breathing.
Eventually, our whole class of Tadpoles, turned into Flying Fish and got really good at nasal breathing which gave us an edge at inter Y swim meets.
When I enlisted in the US Marines I practiced breathing through my nose, allowing myself to mouth breathe only as a last resort during the strenuous physical testing as a Parris Island boot.
I have never forgotten it, it is 2nd nature.
And then 20 years ago when I learned yoga I uses it to “calm and center” myself, and it you practice yoga, I do recommend you do it too. In yoga, we breathe in and out through the nose.
The Big Q: Why does it make a difference whether an athlete inhales and exhales through the mouth or nose?
The Big A: It is important to understand that there are known health benefits of optimizing oxygen delivery to the body’s muscles and internal organs.
Having higher levels of life-giving oxygen within the body can:
• Lower your blood pressure
• Reduce stress and anxiety by lowering the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, and releasing mood-boosting hormones like serotonin
• Balance your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems
• Improve athletic performance
• Improve mental focus and boost brain health
Even though everybody breathes without thinking about it being mindful and in control of this autonomic function can serve us well. Because the more we move, the more oxygen our bodies need.
Breathing through the nose carries small amounts of nitric oxide, a beneficial gas present in the nasal cavity, into the lungs.
Almost every type of cell in the human body produces nitric oxide. It is one of the most important molecules for healthy blood vessels.
Nitric oxide is a vasodilator which relaxes and opens the inner muscles of the blood vessels. Widening the pipe, as it were, allows more blood to flow and, consequently, lowers blood pressure. It is also a bronchodilator (opens the respiratory airways by widening them) – and kills germs, to boot.
More consistent breathing, with even, measured breaths rather than short, shallow breaths, delivers more nitric oxide into the body. This ensures that tiring muscles get the oxygen they need to keep working.
Nose breathing also helps balance the volume of air you breathe in and out. Chronic mouth-breathers often take many short, shallow breaths rather than complete lung expansion and contraction.
During your workout, be sure to breathe through your nose the entire time. If you start sucking air through your mouth, back off on the intensity so that you can go back to breathing through your nose.
In time, you’ll be able to exercise at greater intensity and still breathe through your nose, a sign that your fitness is improving.
Doing so sets up steady, consistent nasal breathing which, in turn, can help keep up a steady, consistent pace throughout any aerobic workout. A runner, for example, might breathe out for 3 steps and in for another three steps as a way to regulate the strides. Go with your comfort level and expect improvement over time.
If you’re breathing very slow and relaxed, your ability to pull in more oxygen will be reduced, which will limit your ability to perform aerobic work.
Other Key benefits of nasal breathing are the following:
1. Regulates body temperature: the internal nose provides around 90% of the respiratory system air-conditioning requirement, and also recovers around 33% of exhaled heat and moisture.
2. Improves brain function: increased airflow through the right nostril is correlated to increased left brain activity and enhanced verbal performance; whereas increased airflow through the left nostril is associated with increased right brain activity and enhanced spatial performance.
Now that you know what the Nose Knows you can breathe a sigh of relief!
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively
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