The Benefits of Nasal Breathing
Do you breathe through your nose or mouth? Stop for a second and pay attention to your breath. If you find yourself breathing through your mouth, you might not be breathing as efficiently as possible.
Raise your hand if you think a big breath through your mouth increases the amount of oxygen you can take into the body? The thing is, nearly everyone has sufficiently oxygenated blood at all times (95-99% 02 Saturation).
So rather than more oxygen in the system we need to make our systems more efficient at delivering oxygen.
This is where CO2 comes in. Now we may think CO2 is just a waste product of breathing, however, CO2 is vital to efficient breathing. When we nasal breathe, we exhale less CO2 than mouth breathing and become more tolerant to it.
CO2 is responsible for unloading oxygen from the blood to the tissues in the body. This is vital when exercising, as our working muscles are delivered with more oxygenated blood.
Let’s take a look at some of the other proven benefits of nasal breathing:
Emotional State: Nasal breathing will help reduce stress. Pay attention to how you’re breathing next time you’re stressed. Focus on some breathes through the nose and asses how you feel
Improved Sleep: Not only has nasal breathing during sleep been proven to help disorders such as sleep apnea, you will also
Improved Exercise Performance
Improved Immune Function Improved concentration and focus
How can you test your breathing?
The BOLT (blood oxygen level test) is a breath hold test which determines your breathing volume at rest. The BOLT test is not a max breath hold test, rather the test is over when you feel the first sensation of breathlessness. The test is best performed after 10 minutes of rest. The ideal is around 40 seconds. Give it a go and see how you get on.
Take a normal inhale and exhale through your nose.
Close your mouth and hold your nose to block your airways.
Start a timer to measure and stop the clock when you have first desire to breath. These include: needing to swallow, a constriction in airways, a constriction in breathing muscles in throat or abdomen.
Release your nose and should be able to breathe normally straight after.
How to improve your BOLT score?
Keep your mouth closed whilst sleeping (using tape):
We would suggest before jumping into this one to be comfortable with tape on for 20 minutes at a time awake.
Breath Holds Whilst Walking:
Start nasal breathing. Take a normal sized inhale, normal sized exhale and hold breath for 20 paces or until you feel a medium air shortage. Resume nasal breathing. You should be able to get back to normal breath pattern in 2-3 breaths. If you can’t you overdid it.
Nasal Breathing whilst exercising:
Our advice with introducing nasal breathing is to start slowly! Pick an intensity that is lower than your norm. You need to understand that you are acclimatising your body to increased CO2. When starting off this will mean a slower pace than you can normally maintain. We understand this can be frustrating, so start by only choosing one workout a week to practice and increase from there.
Things to focus on:
You may feel panicky to start with. Slow the pace until you find a natural breathing pattern. If you have a strong desire to breathe through the mouth, you’re probably going to fast.
Start introducing with aerobic exercise such as running, cycling, or rowing, rather than mixed modal/ crossfit workouts.
Nasal breathing should connect you to your diaphragm. Try to feel air starting at the lower ribs, rather than seeing your upper chest rise to start with.