When people think of improving their fitness, a few images tend to come to the fore: Lifting heavy things. Running faster and for longer distances. Getting more flexible.
These are the kinds of activities that create the perception that muscles and movement are at the foundation of better health. But one of the best tools at your disposal in getting fitter is one that many people never think about: Breathing.
For a lot of athletes, when your heart rate spikes and you start to breathe heavily, the tendency is to start breathing through your mouth. Unfortunately, breathing through the mouth has a few drawbacks. It leads to accelerated loss of water in the body, and has a tendency to lead to an imbalance of carbon dioxide and oxygen in your system.
That’s why we do so much work at the gym on nasal breathing.
When you breathe through your nose, you help your body optimize oxygen absorption. Because the nasal airways are more narrow than those of the mouth, it takes longer for air to leave the body through the nose. That gives your lungs additional time to extract oxygen from your breathe and to transfer it to your bloodstream, where your muscles can make use of it.
Breathing through your nose also stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a feeling of calm — a welcome advantage when you’re working out.
And the benefits of breathing through the nose aren’t limited to exercise. They can be a huge boost to promoting better sleep, as well.
For more info on why our coaches recommend working on nasal breathing, check out our podcast here.