Transform Your Health With Nasal Breathing
I want you to freeze for a moment.
Take a quick note of how you're breathing right now.
Is your mouth open or closed?
If your mouth is open and you're mouth breathing, this article may change your life. If your mouth is closed, you're off to a good start in terms of the quality of your breathing and this article is going to help you maximize that.
Breathing is much more than just something that keeps you alive. It's much more than just oxygen in and carbon dioxide out.
We can breathe really well and reap the benefits that we will cover below, or we can breathe poorly throughout the day, during our sleep, and during our workouts and drastically reduce our health, energy, and well-being over time.
There's two main ways to breathe:
1. Nasal breathing: breathing in and out through your nose (keeping your mouth closed)
2. Mouth breathing: breathing in and out through your mouth
As humans, we are intended to breathe through our nose. In fact, our anatomy is designed to do so. Over time though, due to mainly changes in our food and it becoming more processed, sugary, and acidic, we have shifted the way we now breathe to mouth breathing. Mouth breathing as you'll read increases our breathing rate to help us exhale more carbon dioxide. This is our body's way of balancing the acidity of our blood from high in-take of processed and sugary foods.
Let's start by getting into the health problems associated with mouth breathing.
1. Increased heart rate and breathing rate
2. Increased stress response (increased stress hormones, fight or flight)
3. Increased muscle activation of neck, shoulder, chest, and back (mouth breathing causes your muscles to over work)
4. Decreased overall energy (mouth breathing requires more effort)
5. Decreased oxygen transfer at your lungs and muscles
6. Increased dehydration
7. Decreased immune system function
8. Vasoconstriction of blood vessels (less blood flow throughout body)
9. Lowered mental focus
"Mouth breathing is stressed breathing." - Patrick McKeown (The Oxygen Advantage)
Mouth breathing requires a great deal of work and energy. When your body should be in rest mode, like when you're sleeping, your body is actively working to assist your inefficient breathing. This is a huge detriment to your health and energy.
On the other hand, nasal breathing, or breathing in and out of your nose throughout the day and while you sleep has the opposite effect on our health and well-being.
Let's cover the enormous benefits of nasal breathing.
1. Filters and humidifies the air making it easier to breathe in
2. Pulls nitric oxide into the lungs (increases oxygen transfer to blood and vasodilation of blood vessels)
3. Lowered stress and muscle activation of neck, shoulders, chest, and back
4. Increased oxygen delivery to your blood and to your muscles (increase energy and workout performance)
5. Improved sleep quality and daily energy
6. Improved hydration
7. Increased immune system function (filter airborne bacteria and viruses)
8. Increased core strength (nasal breathing increases your diaphragm muscle use)
"Nasal breathing is quiet breathing, and quiet breathing is optimal breathing" - Patrick McKeown (The Oxygen Advantage)
As you can see we are designed as humans to breathe through our nose. Doing so improves our sleep, increases our daily and workout energy, makes us less likely to get sick, and transforms our health.
How and when should you nasal breathe?
According to breathing expert, Patrick McKeown author of The Oxygen Advantage, nasal breathing should be done by keeping your mouth closed and placing your tongue on the roof of your mouth. It should be quiet and slow.
When should you nasal breathe? All the time.
It should happen when you work, drive, watch TV, sleep, and even during most of your exercise.
How to get started nasal breathing.
To get started, you must be mindful of your breathing throughout the day. Take note of how you're breathing during everyday tasks and at rest.
Make sure to keep your mouth closed and your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Aim to keep the breathing in and out of your nose slow, relaxed, and quiet. Mindfulness here will help make nasal breathing a habit over time.
What you're going to notice about nasal breathing during exercise is that it's challenging at first. You're going to feel like you need to switch to mouth breathing and that is ok.
Start with sticking to nasal breathing during low intensity exercise like walking and during your warm-ups. The more you work on it, the better it will get. This in turn will transfer to better oxygen delivery to your muscles when you workout, which means less fatigue for you during your workouts.
When your exercise intensity gets too high, switch to nasal breathing in, mouth breathing to exhale only.
Let's get to work! 💪