Improve Your Exercising with Right Breathing

There seems to be quite a lot of confusion recently over the correct way to inhale while exercising such as in running or jogging.

According to the text Physiology of Sport and Physical Exercise by Wilmore and Costill the need to breathe rises in direct proportion to the intensity of work. A mild workload such as brisk walking prompts enlargement of the lungs and deeper breathing. As the work becomes harder, the pace of breathing also increases.

With the exception of conditions like asthma, breathing should not limit your ability to run or carry out training exercises, even at very challenging levels. The quantity of air entering the lungs is not the trouble; it is the body’s inability to grab and use adequate oxygen to meet the increased demand that makes you out of breath (inspired air comprises roughly 20 percent oxygen while expired air has about 16 percent).

Many beginning runners have been misguided to believe that the correct way to inhale is to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. While it is true that air is dryer and cooler when inhaled by the mouth, this should not become an issue unless you are particularly liable tophysical exercise induced asthma.

I believe that the nose breathing method causes self-induced asthma, since inhaling through the nose severely limits the quantity of air that can be delivered to the lungs. I suspect breathing this way has an unfavourable impact on running performance related to asthma, especially as speed increases.

Runners should be inhaling and exhaling by both nose AND mouth to a fixed pattern or rhythm. According to one particular well-respected coach and author, most elite runners breathe to a 2-2 rhythm. They inhale in while taking 2 steps and out while taking another 2 steps. At an easy pace they might use to a 3-3 rhythm instead.

2-2 regular breathing rhythm

Left foot– begin exhale right foot- continue exhale left foot- start inhale right foot- carry on inhaling.

One problem with this method is the continued cycle of inhaling or exhaling on the same footstep, Some professionals and coaches think this could lead to side stitches. If you are one of the unfortunate runners prone to side aches, try from time to time switching which footstep you breathe out on, or even modify your breathing rhythm to breathe out on alternating right and left footfalls. That may get a little difficult to do since you will have to adapt an uneven 3-2 or 4-3 breathing pattern (breathing out for more counts than breathing in).

3-2 breathing cycle

Left foot- begin breathing in right foot, carry on breathing out left foot, begin exhale right foot, carry on exhaling left foot – carry on breathing out, right foot- start breathing in.

According to some university track coaches, uneven breathing cycles are effective because air pressure in the lung is lower than that of the atmosphere, causing air to rush in fast. Take some more time to breathe out, since leaving residual carbon dioxide in the lungs can very much get in the way of delivery of oxygen on the next breath in.

It will help if you try out your breathing pattern while walking before you begin running, either on the treadmill or outdoors. Carry the method over to a lazy jog and then scale up to a faster pace of exercising.