How to Implement Nasal Breathing in Your Workouts

Want to know the secret to being a better exerciser? Try breathing through your nose. Research has shown that nasal breathing can help improve your body’s capacity to perform at a higher level of intensity for a longer period of time. Here’s how:

Your lungs are a major factor in determining your energy level. They extract oxygen from the air we breathe when we exhale, which slows down and restricts the exhaled air and allows the lungs to absorb more oxygen. However, if carbon dioxide is lost too quickly then one’s ability to absorb oxygen is decreased and can result in hyperventilation (fast mouth breathing). Furthermore, nose breathing results in 10-20 percent more oxygen uptake in individuals than breathing through one’s mouth.

You might be thinking to yourself, ‘The benefits sound great, but how do I actually consistently breathe through my nose when I workout?’ Excellent question. The first thing to do is pay attention. Next time you are warming up for a class, think about how you are breathing. As your intensity starts to increase, focus on the speed of your breathing and how it feels to pay attention to your breathing.

Just like with any other new skill, learning how to nasal breathe takes practice. You can slowly start to implement this skill in warm-ups and cool-downs where the level of intensity is not as high as it is in an actual workout. Start by closing your mouth and relaxing your tongue and jaw. Then, expand your use of nasal breathing into normal, everyday activities as well. If you want to go even further, there is a practice called ‘mouth taping’ where you can buy a specially-designed tape to put over your mouth while you are sleeping to help with nasal breathing. 

Finally, if you are serious about taking your breathing to the next level, then it’s important to understand the role of carbon dioxide and how to use it most effectively. Through observing diseased patients’ breathing patterns, Russian medical scientist Dr. Konstantin Buteyko developed the theory that hyperventilation causes a depletion of carbon dioxide and low levels of carbon dioxide in an organism causes blood vessels to spasm and oxygen starvation of the tissues. With this discovery, Dr. Buteyko developed a method for breathing that aims to regulate the critical balance of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the body. His breathing technique has proven to be successful in decreasing asthma-related systems and increasing one’s peak expiratory flow rate. For more information about the Buteyko breathing method, how to measure your retention of carbon dioxide, and how to use this method in your daily life, check out this article: