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Are You Breathing Too Much?

Now that your attention is on your breath, I'll explain.

Ever heard of “too much of a good thing”?

Just like anything in life, too much of a good thing can actually turn out to be not so good.

At least 10% of the population suffers from breathing dysfunctions (Asthma, Sleep Apnea, Hypocapnia and let's say snoring). Most of which are able to be improved through simple breathing techniques and awareness.

The optimal breathing rate consists of a 5.5 sec inhale and a 5.5 sec exhale.


Breathing less is not the same as breathing slowly, the average adult lung capacity can hold roughly 4 - 6 liters of air, meaning even practicing 5.5 breaths per minute could still mean taking in more air than needed.

Longevity benefits of breathing less:

- Increase in VO2 max (the maximum rate of oxygen consumption measured during incremental exercise), boosting athletic stamina and helping to live longer and healthier.

- Decrease resting heart rate

- Calm the central nervous system, reducing stress, and assisting in relaxation

- Increase digestion

- Muscles adapt to tolerate more lactate accumulation = ability to train harder and for longer

Try practicing fewer inhales and exhales in smaller volumes. So yes breathe, but breathe less (oh, and through your nose if you can!).

And if you like the sciencey bit...

Chemoreceptors, which detect changes in blood levels of carbon dioxide and oxygen, stimulate the feeling of suffocation when holding your breath.

It is worth mentioning that chemoreception is adaptable to different environments, they have the ability to adjust to varying

levels of carbon dioxide and oxygen, which is how humans are able to survive at high and low altitudes.

Chemoreceptor flexibility can determine good athletes from top performers. These individuals will train their chemoreceptors to withstand extreme fluctuations in carbon dioxide without panic.

Essentially, train in different heart rate zones (strength and cardio), and try breathing less while doing it.

Book recommendation: Breath by James Nestor

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