Nick Fitness Answers #85 - What is the best way to breathe? | Fit Futures

Hey what’s up guys? It’s Nick from Fit Futures here with yet another answer to yet another question.

Today’s question comes from Carlos in the South Island, and Carlos asks; Nick, what’s the best way to breathe? Well Carlos, simply put, the best way to breathe as science has demonstrated for years upon years upon years now is in through the nose… and out through the mouth.

The recommendation is that it should be slow and controlled breathing. Reason being, that they have found that a hundred and fifty millilitres of thereabouts actually gets trapped in our breathing passages so when we’re breathing in, we’re not necessarily getting the benefit of all of that stuff coming into our system. Which is interesting. Which is why when we’re breathing quick and we’re breathing in shallow breath like… We’re not necessarily getting anything out of that. In fact, when we’re doing that we can actually be forcing out carbon dioxide, which is good, everybody’s saying well yeah, obviously we want to get rid of the carbon dioxide so we can take on the oxygen, but if we get rid of too much and we force out the carbon dioxide, we can drop the pH value of our blood which can affect blood flow to the heart, can lead to dizziness, can even lead to us fainting altogether. So of course, we want to avoid breathing shallowly and we want to avoid breathing too quick. So the recommendation is, in through the nose, out through the mouth, deep controlled breaths.

But, when we train, we’re not always just walking, and research has demonstrated that when training intensity increases beyond what would be considered comfortable, such as when we’re walking, it becomes a run or it becomes high intensity interval training for argument’s sake. By default, we are going to adopt another breathing mechanism which, for most people is breathing in through the mouth. Now, the issues there is that we can’t humidify the air as we can when we breath in through the nose. When we breath in through the nose, we humidify the air and we can prevent the amount of pollutants and irritants getting into our lungs and causing some issues there with respect to breathing. Which is an important consideration for asthmatics especially. And so we need to be mindful of that. But the problem is, as well, when we exercise, the reason that we adopt the other breathing techniques such as through the mouth, is because we’ve got more surface area. Our mouth is bigger than our nostrils, so we can take on more air.

So hopefully that’s answered your question there. But I’ll just touch on one other point that I’d like to make. We can actually train the muscles that are responsible for breathing. Our inspiratory and our expiratory muscles. It can be trained with a little handheld device. I believe it’s called an inspiratory trainer, or an inspiratory muscle trainer. You can pick them for eighty to a hundred bucks online so again, they’re not necessarily something that we’re going to be able to pick up in gyms, but just for arguments sake, we can train those muscles. The benefit in doing so is that, when we are training and it gets really intense, maybe we’re going for a long run, our legs are absolutely demanding more oxygen, but we’re finding it a little bit difficult to breathe, so our inspiratory and expiratory muscles are also in need of oxygen because they’re working muscles themselves. They will take priority. So if we can train those muscles to be more efficient, then that means when we get in situations like that, we can get more oxygen to our legs because they probably wont need as much up here.

So breath in through the nose, out through the mouth, maybe even practice some Yoga. Focus on breathing techniques and over time, the deeper breathing will obviously calm us down, the deeper breathing will help to impact on the musculature involved with the breathing and we can optimise how well we breathe. But again, with training we’re not necessarily going to be able to adopt… we’ll probably be doing more… And that’s okay but just make sure that we’re not hyperventilating, make sure that the breaths aren’t shallow and you’ll be golden from there.

So Carlos, hope that answered your question, buddy. Keep an eye out for more video content, guys. As always, plenty more that where that came from.

Keep well until next time, team.