Our mouths are designed for eating, drinking, and emergency breathing. Mouth breathing triggers the stress response. Nose breathing triggers the relaxation response. How you breathe determines many factors: How well the body’s cells are oxygenated, whether the body is burning primarily fat or sugar, the pH balance of the blood and the hormonal/brain response of the body to any activity.
Specifically, nasal breathing on both the inhale and the exhale optimizes all of the above factors for performance and perception. Nasal breathing produces nitric oxide, a bronchodilator and vasodilator, lowers blood pressure and improves oxygen absorption in the lungs. On the exhale, nasal breathing extracts one oxygen molecule out of the carbon dioxide from the exhalation and adds it to the two oxygen molecules on the inhale, providing a third more oxygen in each inhale (Guz 1997)
Nasal breathing helps the body burn more fat and less sugar. The heart rate determines sugar and fat mixtures used when active. Higher heart rates use more sugar, while lower heart rates us more fat. Nasal breathing lowers heart rate (Jerath et al., 2006)
Additionally, when muscles run low on stored sugar reserves, they become acidic, Nasal breathing increases the pH of blood, providing a more alkaline blood flow to working muscles (Harold, 2015)
Tips to get started:
Begin nasal breathing using the diaphragmatic breath. Practice this while walking to master how it feels to breathe this deeply with a rising heart rate. Then try it while exercising and slow down initially to master breathing in this way.
Next, use a system of counting on your inhale and exhale. Inhale the breath for a count of three and exhale for six.
Create another layer by inhaling for a count of three, holding the breath for a count of three and exhaling the breath for a count of six.
One of the more powerful, yet subtle effects for you will be a potential shift in the mindset and perception of the exercise and physical activity. By employing nasal breathing, there is the potential to shift from a stress response in exercise to a more relaxed yet energetic state in exercise, setting the stage for the beginning of a subjectively more enjoyable exercise experience than you have ever experienced.
This article was taken from ACE- Module 6 Programming Small Wins! By Jonathan Ross
Guz, A. (1997). Brain, breathing and breathlessness. Respiration Physiology, 109,197-204
Harrold, E. (2015). Breathe Your Way into Healthy Heart Rates. www.ptonthenet.com/articles/breathe-your-way-into-healthy-heart-rates-3972
Health, C. & Health, D. (2010). Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. Crown Business
Jerath, R. et al. (2006). Physiology of long pranayamic breathing. Neural respiratory elements may provide a mechanism that explains how slow deep breathing shifts the autonomic nervous system. Medical Hypothesis, 67, 566-571.
Messier, S.P. (2008). The Burden of Obesity: A Biomechanical Perspective. Presented at the ACSM 55th Annual Meeting, Indianapolis, Ind.: May 28, 2008
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (2008). Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults. http://health.gov/paguideline/guidelines/adults.aspx