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Tag Archive for Oxygen

Breathing exercises to power your run (and legs)

Pilates cross-training exercise - The Hundred

Oxygen fuels are bodies just as food does. How often have you found yourself thinking that if only you could get more air faster, you’d be able to power up a hill in a jog, or at least maintain pace? While most runners focus on training their legs and heart, few pay attention to the benefits that respiratory training can have on endurance and overall performance. After all, better breathing means more oxygen for your muscles.

Scientists at Brunel University in England recently found that marathoners’ fatigue levels and breathing. The runners whose breathing was most strained were found to have the most leg weakness. This led the team to conclude that respiratory muscles power the legs. The key? Deep breathing. Below are three pilates cross-training exercises to minimize the panting and maximize the power.

The Hundred

Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keep your arms at your sides, palms down. Inhale and lift your head, neck, shoulders, and arms off the ground as much as you can. Lift your knees and pull your feet out in front of you so that your legs are straight and at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Take five short breaths in and five short breaths out while pumping your arms, moving them in small circles. Do a cycle of 10 full breaths, which is comprised of five inhales and five exhales. By the time that you do 10 complete breaths, you should have also completed 100 arm pumps.

Pilates cross-training exercise - The Hundred

The Swan

Lie face down with your palms flat under your shoulders (as if you were going to do a pushup). Look down so your neck is in line with your spine and inhale while slowly lifting your head, neck, shoulders, and chest as you press your hands into the ground. This is almost like a pushup except that you keep your legs flat on the ground. Keep a slight bend in your elbows. As you exhale, slowly lower yourself back down chest first, then the shoulders, neck, chin, and head. To avoid discomfort or pain in your back and neck, pull your shoulders back to open up your chest. Repeat the up and down 10 times

Pilates cross-training exercise - The Swan

Standing Chest Expansion

Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly bent, and your arms at your sides. Inhale and lift your arms up and out so that your biceps are near your ears and your palms are facing each other (touchdown stance). Exhale and lower your arms back down to your sides. Repeat four times, concentrating on deep breathing and opening up your chest.

Pilates cross-training exercise - Standing Chest Expansion

The Future of Breathing Oxygen Crystals

Oxygen Crystal Breathing

Of all the places you might think of to catch a deep breath, underwater is probably not one of them. However, recent news reports say that scientists at the University of Southern Denmark have created crystals that may allow people to breath underwater. The scientists have said that they developed “crystalline materials that can bind and store oxygen in high concentrations.”

Just a couple “crystal” grains have enough oxygen for a whole breath and it can absorb oxygen from the water around you so you can breathe it in. The so-called “Aquaman Crystal” is like an oxygen tank, but small, light crystals that last a lot longer. Think of them as small sponges that suck up oxygen instead of water.

Although the technology is surprising and exciting, this development is only the beginning of using this science to dive under water. For one, people drink a combination of gases, the majority of which is oxygen. Also, these crystals don’t account for the drastic pressure changes as divers go deeper. In addition to being of interest to divers, this technology can make a world of a difference to asthmatics, lung cancer patients, and others who will benefit from having a pocket full of oxygen in the form of crystals instead of an oxygen tank.

Combat Depression with Deep Breathing

Combat Depression with Deep Breathing Exercises

The world was stunned when the news of Robin Williams’s suicide surfaced. Unfortunately his story is not unique. Funnymen Richard Jeni, Charles Rocket and Freddie Prinze also committed suicide after losing battles to depression. Of course, one doesn’t have to be a professional comedian to suffer from this dangerous disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 90% of people who take their own lives are diagnosed with depression or another mental illness. A report done in 2013 also suggests baby boomers suffering from depression are more likely to consider suicide than other generation groups.

To dull the pain of depression, many turn to drugs or alcohol but this only worsens the situation. Healthier options are available and must be used as part of a strategy to properly combat depression.

Often when a person’s mood is low, their breathing is shallow and constricted. This causes an inadequate supply of oxygen in the blood and can result in an emotional imbalance. Fortunately, there are simple breathing exercises to deepen one’s breathing and lighten one’s mood.

If you close your eyes and focus all your attention on breathing deeply, you can relax your body. This will allow you to open your mind and welcome in positive thoughts. Simply increase the depth of your breath so you are taking four or fewer breaths every 60 seconds. Try this for five minutes and see how much better you feel.

To be less depressed and more energized, try this exercise. First, sit on a chair with your back straight and feet flat on the floor. Reach straight up with both hands. Then, inhale deeply. As you hold your breath, squeeze your fists before exhaling slowly. Imagine you are pulling down on rubber bands as you lower your fists to your chest. Now, repeat this a couple more times.

When you’re almost ready to finish, cross your arms over your chest. Rest your fingers on your chest, with your wrists crossed in the middle. Drop your chin to your chest and inhale four short breaths without exhaling. Hold your breath before finally exhaling slowly through your mouth. Then, repeat for a few more minutes.

If this exercise sounds too complicated, you may want to first try basic breathing exercises with a respiratory trainer such as Breathslim®. This handy device can help you pay attention to your breathing and literally change your life for the better.

Panic attacks and Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises for panic attacks

You start to lose control of your body, your heart races, your head gets dizzy, and your palms are sweaty – yes, you are having a panic attack. Although the triggers vary greatly from person to person, the symptoms are pretty typical. This intense nervousness makes you become short of breath and even shake. You may feel like you’re having a heart attack, or going crazy – but you’re not. Panic attacks are actually fairly common, with more than six million Americans experiencing panic attacks annually. However, if they are a regular occurrence, you should talk to your doctor about panic disorder.

Did you know that a key component to avoiding and ending a panic attack is your breathing? There are breathing exercises that you can master to regain control of your body and nerves. Most breathing guides tell you to start by taking a deep breath, but at this point your lungs are full of shallow breaths that will only let you take another shallow breath. First, exhale completely. Let all of the air out of your lungs to create room for the new deep breath that you’re about to take.

Shallow breathing also creates the chest pain associated with panic attacks. It’s not your heart that is hurting, but rather the chest muscles. Shallow breathing, especially during a panic attack, also produces the feeling of hyperventilation and the dizziness that comes with it. Deep belly breathing quickly and effectively minimizes the symptoms of a panic attack. Oxygen calms the nerves and relaxes the body, physiologically solving an issue started most likely psychologically.

In order to achieve long-term results and actually decrease the occurrence of panic attacks, not just mediate them when they happen, invest in a respirator trainer, which provides the same physiological, nervous, and psychological benefits as belly breathing, and many more. The best part? Say goodbye to recurring panic attacks.

Athletes, Increase Your Endurance!

How athletes can increase endurance

Runners, bikers and swimmers – surely you have noticed when you are running harder, or for an extended period of time, your leg muscles become fatigued. However, it’s not necessarily your leg muscles that are the first to become strained. When you run, bike and swim, it is more likely that your respiratory muscles are the first to become tired. It is important to remember that respiratory muscles are just as susceptible to overexertion as your body’s other muscles.

While you’re running and you feel your legs become fatigued, this is because the nervous system has redirected oxygen delivery to your respiratory muscles to keep them going and to not allow them to become fatigued to a dangerous extent. When your limb muscles do not have enough oxygen, they become tired and start to feel limp and heavy.

To increase your respiratory muscle endurance, you can train the muscles with deeper breathing to strengthen them. They can be trained separately from the rest of your body. Using a respiratory trainer like Breathslim, you’ll use your respiratory muscles at a higher capacity, sometimes even more than when you’re actually running, biking or swimming. Without the rest of your body needing excessive oxygen, the tool helps strengthen in the chest cavity.

With stronger respiratory muscles, your endurance and athletic performance will take off.

High Altitudes. High Risk.

Breathing at high altitudes

If you want to visit the mountains of, say, Colorado for a hiking trip, the altitude’s affect on your body is a necessary consideration. Though most of the Western part of the United States is above sea level, in the mountains you may experience what is considered high altitude, higher than 5,000 feet, or very high altitude above, which is 11,500 feet above sea level. At these levels, noticeable changes will take place in the body.

The air pressure is the same at sea level as at high altitudes, but the oxygen molecules are more dispersed in the air the higher you ascend so there is less oxygen taken in on each breath. Your body will start to create more red blood cells because they are the cells that carry oxygen throughout the blood. Visitors to high altitudes often develop AMS, an acute mountain sickness that can be avoided and usually goes away within a couple of days. Symptoms can include nausea, headache, trouble sleeping and breathing faster and deeper to try to pull in more oxygen. Two other conditions that can strike anyone at a high altitude whether fit or unfit is called high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) and high altitude cerebral edema (HACE). These conditions can be life threatening.

There are ways to enjoy the beauty of the mountains while doing your best to avoid becoming ill. There is a saying, “Climb high, sleep low.” Go to a lower altitude to sleep to avoid oxygen loss. Next, drink up! Staying hydrated is very important. At higher altitudes your body loses fluids faster because of the decreased humidity and increased urination. The body will make up for fluid loss by storing water and sodium which can result in fluid entering the body tissue and cause swelling of the feet, hands and face. Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeinated drinks that dehydrate the body. Nausea is common at high altitudes, but REI says that eating can actually reverse those green feelings. If you are to experience nausea, headache, feeling disoriented, dizzy or develop a persistent cough, descend immediately to a lower altitude.

Breathing deeply to get more oxygen into the blood on each breath will reduce the pressure on your body to compensate for the lack of oxygen at high altitudes. Try using a respiratory trainer. Breathslim will help you take in more oxygen on each breath, something that our bodies desperately need when up in the mountains.

Always remain observant of how your body is responding to altitude changes. Breathing with Breathslim will deliver more oxygen to the blood, but altitude sickness can still occur.

Breathing for Singers

Breathing tips for singers

Singers, both advanced and novice are taught how to properly breathe to “support the tone” and use the diaphragm. However, as it turns out many vocal coaches do not fully understand the body’s physiological uses of its muscles and organs, and hence student singers learn the wrong techniques.

Vocal technique instructor Karyn O’Connor knows the science behind proper breathing and understands how this affects the unique breathing that takes place during singing. She thoroughly outlines this on her website,, but I’m going to give you a quick synopsis so you can utilize the respiratory muscles to optimize your vocals.

Controlled breathing is the key. During speaking we tend to breathe in shallow, even breaths. This works decently for its purpose, which is getting about 5 percent of oxygen into the blood on each breath, but it is absolutely not efficient for a singer. O’Connor says that during singing, “we need to inhale quickly and deeply, then exhale slowly and steadily in a long breath.” Singers must train the respiratory muscles to be able to maintain control throughout the process. The muscles in the abdomen are a major contributor to your control. To extend how long you can exhale, you have to keep your sternum raised for as long as possible without raising your shoulders or clavicle.

Supporting the tone can mean very little to singers unless it is fully understood. A part of this is contracting the abdominal muscles so there is more pressure in the abdomen and thorax. Then the diaphragm will rise. O’Connor tells singers to focus their breathing in the soft space between the ribs, below the diaphragm because it allows for the complete filling of the lungs.

During sleep, we breathe the most naturally. Our abdomens rise without the movement of the shoulders or clavicle. If a singer allows his or her chest to rise on when inhaling, the sternum collapses, there is disconnect between the upper and lower muscles in the torso and the lower lobes of the lungs are cut off and not able to fill. That means a shallow breath on the exhale.

Improper breathing feels unnatural, but when we are taught the wrong method we can retrain our bodies to do it right. If you sing with the use of inefficient breathing, you can retrain your lungs with the correct techniques.

Deep Belly Breathing

Breathing Exercise - Deep Belly Breathing

Mindful meditation reduces stress, improves energy and aids in weight loss. Yoga practice calls for inner meditation with a type of breathing that is outwardly noticeable, like in Vinyasa flow yoga. In this breathing, the meditator makes a sound like “shh”as she exhales. It is intense, and is to be felt deep in the “belly”.

Deep breathing is difficult to maintain. It takes practice. Often, we take shallow breaths that only expand the chest. Shallow breathing encourages fatigue, weight gain and stress. During meditation, we experience slower breathing that expands the diaphragm sending more oxygen to the lungs per every inhale. Only 5% of oxygen is taken in with a shallow breath. Proper deep breathing brings in around 10%.

A psychological study showed the physiological differences in yoga meditation breathing and shorter breath, breathing. The study allowed 11 meditators to practice yoga techniques while 11 control group members were to remain “wakefully relaxed.” During the 40 minutes, six of 11 people from the wakefully relaxed group fell asleep, but none of the meditators did. The meditators uniquely experienced a reduction in respiratory rates. This effect continued after they’d stopped meditating.

By continual practice of yoga meditation, deep breathing becomes a natural default. It means more oxygen to the lungs and brain causing increased alertness. Something as simple as proper breathing increases energy! A respiratory training tool can help.

In a few short minutes of focused Vinyasa style breathing, anxiety is lessened. With consistent deep belly breathing overall stress is reduced.

1 Elson, B. D., Hauri, P. and Cunis, D. (1977), Physiological Changes in Yoga Meditation. Psychophysiology, 14: 52–57.doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.1977.tb01155.x