Breathing Retraining: From Sick/Victims to Superhumans

in Spanish: beneficios de actividad fisica

Physical Activity Benefits for 100% Nose Breathing: Exercise Chart

Brain oxygen levels for normal breathing and deep breathing The benefits of correct physical activity include increased body and brain oxygenation at rest (determined using the Exercise Chart provided below), better sleep and more energy. However, there is one crucial rule that makes exercise safe and effective at the same time.

About 180 Russian medical doctors tested thousands of their patients and found the main benefits of physical activity. When their patients achieved high body-oxygen test results and stopped doing breathing exercises, their long-term body-oxygen test numbers were linked to the amount of daily physical exercise, even in cases when these students continued to control their breathing throughout the day. In other words, they found that physical exercise is the key lifestyle factor to increase body oxygenation and maintain great health.Athletes running during mass competition

Below is the Exercise Chart that is based on my observations related to physical activity benefits of my breathing students. This Chart (Table) shows a link between the duration of daily physical activity and maximum expected body-oxygen levels for experienced students who do some breath work (e.g., about 1 hour of breathing exercises per day).

Exercise Chart: benefits of exercise for body oxygen levels

Exercise Chart (for younger people, < 30 yo)

Duration of
exercise per day
Maximum body
oxygen (CP) expected
60 min 15 s
90 min 20 s
1 hour of devoted PE + 1 hour others 25 s
1.5 hour of devoted PE + 1 hour others 30 s
2 hour of devoted PE + 1 hour others 35 s
2.5-3 hours of devoted PE + 1 hour others Up to 2-3 min

Exercise Chart (for middle age people, 40-60 yo)

Duration of
exercise per day
Maximum body
oxygen (CP) expected
0 min 15 s
30 min 20 s
60 min 25 s
1 hour of devoted PE + 1 hour others 30 s
1.5 hour of devoted PE + 1 hour others 35 s
2 hours of devoted PE + 1 hour others Up to 2-3 min

Exercise Chart (for elderly people, > 70 yo)

Duration of
exercise per day
Maximum body
oxygen (CP) expected
0 min 15 s
30 min 20 s
60 min 25 s
30 min of devoted PE + 1 hour others 30 s
1 hour of devoted PE + 1 hour others 35 s
1-1.5 hours of devoted PE + 1 hour others Up to 2-3 min

Exercise Chart notes. “1.5 hour of devoted PE + 1 hour others” means that the person spends, for example, 1.5 hour on devoted PE (physical exercise) (e.g., 2 daily jogging sessions of 45 min each) and also gets 1 hour of walking here and there throughout the day.

Explanations for the Exercise Chart

Mouth breathing peopleMany sick people, especially city dwellers, often have less than 20 min of physical activity per day. (These 20 minutes include walking within the house, to the car, while shopping, etc.). Their body and brain oxygenation is, at best, according to the Exercise Chart, about 18 seconds due to habitual chest breathing, mouth breathing and overbreathing (breathing more than the medical norm at rest).

If a person with over 20 second CP (Control Pause or body-oxygen test results) devotes every day 1 hour to rigorous physical activity with nose breathing only, they can finally get stabilized, over a period of some days, at the level of about 25 seconds of body O2. Usually such people naturally get about 30 min of light exercise throughout the day (e.g., walking here and there).

Having more than 2 hours of daily physical activity is generally sufficient to get or maintain any body-oxygen levels.

Elderly people often require less physical exercise than younger people. For example, a 60+ or 70+ years old person may require only 1 hour of devoted exercise and 1 hour of walking to get any body oxygenation, provided that there are few, if any, negative effects due to other lifestyle risk factors.

Soccer game Teenagers and young people in their 20s and 30s may require more physical activity than older people in order to achieve certain CP levels.

Note that it is assumed here that other factors, including breath-work, sleep hygiene, diet, nutritional deficiencies, thermoregulation, daily work, and posture, do not produce negative effects on morning oxygenation.

Note about recovery from chronic diseases. People with physiological conditions or pathological tissue changes (inflammation, tumors, deposits, lymphomas, granulomas, and so on) generally cannot get even 25 s oxygenation without additional physical exercise.

Mistaken ideas about physical activity benefits

Many Western Buteyko breathing practitioners teaching the Buteyko method do not sufficiently emphasize the importance and value of physical activity. They assume that a student with serious or physical health problems can just do more breath work and achieve a high oxygenation without physical exercise. These students can practice breath work for 2-3 hours per day and often achieve very high absolute maximum pauses (up to 1.5-2 minutes). However, their teachers often do not have them focus on and record their morning CPs (Control Pause or body-oxygen test results). It can be called a "get large CPs and forget the mornings approach.

Old man sleeping in hospital As a result of the damage produced, such students usually get stuck with about 15-23 s for the morning CP and chest breathing during sleep and at other times when they are not aware of their breathing. Furthermore, many health problems may get worse due to very large CP fluctuations, e.g., from around 20 s in the morning and up to 40-50 or more seconds after their breath work.

Physical diseases require physical means to remove abnormalities in body cells. We need shaking (vibrations of the body), sweating (to eliminate toxins and poisons) and increased metabolism to successfully and effectively deal with cancer tumors, diabetes, asthma, high cholesterol, arthritis, other auto-immune disorders, inflammatory conditions, GI disorders, and many other problems.

An efficient breathing retraining program should focus and promote an ability to maintain your CP, especially throughout the night, rather than to achieve long or very long breath holds. Physical activity is the crucial factor in this process of gradually increasing the morning CP and preventing decreases due to lifestyle.

Key factors for benefits of physical exercise

Young man running on beach - Nasal breathing: All physical activity should be done with nose breathing (inhalations and exhalations). This leads to increased use of CO2 and NO (nitric oxide) for the body cells, reduced heart rate for the same intensity of exercise, better oxygen transport, increased aerobic metabolism, and decreased lactic acid production. Also, bear in mind that limited success of Graded Exercise Therapy was due to negative effects of mouth breathing.
- Duration of physical activity: The longer the exercise session, the stronger its impact.
- Intensity or speed: Generally, at lower CPs (less than 25-30 s), the most effective exercise is one that is done with maximum intensity, but with nasal breathing all the time. At higher CPs (over 30 s), breathing control during and after exercise becomes an important factor that determines its maximum usefulness.
- Perspiration: Sweating removes numerous toxic and waste products assisting the GI tract, liver, kidneys and other body organs. Dr. Buteyko suggested that it is necessary for good health to sweat every day.
- Shaking or mechanical vibrations of the whole body or whole body vibration: Each step, as during running or jogging, stimulates the lymphatic system and promotes the removal of waste products which are unavoidable during so called "physical diseases".

Girl running (physical exercise)
"Hence, the diseases can be cured by regular physical exercise. There is no need to spend 3 hours every day to retrain one's breathing. Instead, one should work hard 5 hours per day with perspiration. This will cure asthma, hypertension, angina pectoris, and other diseases." Dr. K.P. Buteyko, MD, PhD, "Dr Buteyko Lecture in the Moscow State University on 9 December 1969"

If someone has, for example, 1 or 2 hours per day to improve his or her body oxygen level (CP test), what is the optimum way to distribute this time? Would this distribution depend on the current CP and health state of the student? What is the maximum morning CP expected for a certain amount of physical activity and breath work during breathing retraining?

Medical people with smiles Physical activity or physical exercise, according to Dr. Buteyko and his medical colleagues, is the most natural and, for relatively healthy people, most efficient method to increase cell oxygen levels. However, at lower body-oxygen content, physical exercise can be difficult or, in severe cases, even impossible. Therefore, the optimum health restoration program should adjust physical activity to the current health state of the student and his or her body oxygen level. Furthermore, it is necessary to understand how physical exercise and body oxygen level (or our unconscious breathing patterns) influence and interact with each other. First consider the effects of body oxygenation on our desire to exercise.

Table. Effects of body oxygen levels on physical activity

Body-oxygen level Desire or abilities to exercise
1-5 s CP Any physical activity can be life-threatening since acute exacerbation can occur due to the severe degree of overbreathing and critically low body oxygen level.
5-10 s CP Any exercise, even slow walking on the flat surface, is hard due to severe dyspnea. It can cause exacerbation of health problems (asthma attacks, angina, seizures, and so forth).
11-20 s CP Most people experience and complain about chronic fatigue, but can walk with only nose breathing for hours on a flat surface.
20-30 s CP There are few or no complaints about fatigue. Physical activity (e.g., easy relaxed jogging) is well tolerated, but requires considerable psychological effort and self-discipline.
30-40 s CP Exercise is pleasant and relatively easy, but a systematic or daily exercise routine generally requires good self-discipline.
40-60 s daily CP, less than 40 s morning CP Exercise is easy and pleasant, nose breathing during exercise is natural and comfortable
Over 40 morning CP Exercise is a joy and people are full of energy provided that they have enough food to eat. They crave exercise naturally. If they force themselves not to exercise, their CP drops.

Natural lifestyle choices before and after breathing retraining

Lifestyle factor: Body oxygen < 30 s Body oxygen > 50 s
Energy level Medium, low, or very low High
Desire to exercise Not strong, but possible Craving and joy of exercise
Intensive exercise with nose breathing Hard or impossible Easy and effortless
Typical mind states Confusion, anxiety, depression Focus, concentration, clarity
Craving for sugar and junk foods Present Absent
Addictions to smoking, alcohol, and drugs Possible Absent
Desire to eat raw foods Weak and rare Very common and natural
Correct posture Rare and requires efforts Natural and automatic
Sleep Often of poor quality; > 7 hours Excellent quality; < 5 hours naturally

Physical activity benefits for breathing retraining

Physical activity can defeat chronic diseases provided that one follows a crucial old rule which most people ignore. Do you know this rule? Do you know why hundreds of sick people die during or soon after physical exercise every year due to acute exacerbations? Do you know why intensive exercise is usually useless for sick people and can be harmful? Why was exercise more beneficial some 70-100 years ago then?

While increasing body-oxygen content and MCP (morning CP) by slowing down one's breathing pattern, a student has choices and can use 2 main techniques to increase body-oxygen levels: physical activity and breathing exercises. What is the optimum relative distribution of these factors to health improvement? An effective (or ideal) breathing program for a typical student is always individual (due to the variety of factors that we can or cannot control). However, there are certain common ideas that are reflected in the following Table.

Table. Physical Activity Benefits vs. Benefits of Breathing Exercises

Body-oxygen level Optimum average distribution
Breathing exercises Physical activity
1-10 s CP 100% 0%
11-20 s CP 60% or less 40% or more
20-30 s CP 40% or less 60% or more
30-60 s CP (less than 40 MCP) 20% or less 80% or more
Over 60 s CP or over 40 MCP Unnecessary: breath control is easy* 100%

* At over 40 s morning CP, it is relatively easy to maintain constant breath control, while one is awake, and the CP does not drop during nights due to naturally short sleep (about 4 hours or less).

Which types of physical exercise provide more benefits?

Women runing during competition According to Dr. Buteyko (and he is absolutely right) running or jogging is the best type of physical activity for human beings (except for those people who have problems with their musculoskeletal system, e.g. recently broken bones, severe arthritis, and so on). Other activities, like power walking, cycling, weight lifting, various forms of yoga, and swimming also have many benefits and are almost as good as running. If for whatever reasons someone does not include running in his or her daily routines and suffer from a "physical" disease, it is advisable for this person to have daily perspiration (due to other exercises or sauna, if well tolerated) and mechanical body shaking (e.g., with additional trampoline jumping or use of whole body vibration machines).

Keep in mind that very slow, systematic and gradual start is a very important factor in success for any exercise program. As about more advanced training for those who wants to be very fit, there is Training Mask. It allows to nearly double benefits of exercise in relation to body-O2 content, endurance and VO2max. Here is a review devoted to Training Mask to maximize benefits of physical activity.

Sport and fitness articles:
- Simple breathing exercise for higher VO2max
- Increase VO2max by breathing differently at rest
- Exercise is joy if the body is oxygenated at rest
- When exercise is 100% safe for chronic diseases
- Why modern man gets little, if any, benefits from exercise
- Which exercise parameters increase body oxygenation

Go to Sport, fitness, endurance, and exercise
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