Proper Breathing Exercises for Body O2, Health and Sports
One can spend months or years practicing some breathing exercises, but if his or her automatic (unconscious) breathing pattern (e.g., during sleep) remains the same, there are no improvements in health, symptoms, and quality of life. Hence, the goal of correct respiratory exercises is to achieve very slow and easy breathing (to breathe less 24/7).
There are also some other less known or less common breathing exercises. They include breathing techniques for labor or childbirth (Lamaze breathing techniquesp'> -->breathing techniques), breathing techniques for running, singing, speaking, swimming, meditation, stress, and many others. There is even a breathing technique to help horses. In addition, there are web pages devoted to reviews of respiratory trainers (such as Powerbreathe, Expand-A-Lung, PowerLung and Ultrabreathe). These respiratory exercises are used to train inspiratory muscles, but the effects of these devices depend on methods and instructions for their application.
Proper respiratory techniques
Note that the "Russian dominance" in this Table reflects the current situation related to popularity of some proper breath techniques in Russia. For example, over 2,000,000 Frolov breathing devices were sold there during the first decade of the 21st century in pharmacies. Furthermore, Russia is probably the only country in the world where the general population believes and knows that the slower and less you breathe, the better your health is. This is due to the public activities and clinical work of leading Soviet physiologist Konstantin Buteyko, MD, PhD and about 600 Russian medical doctors who teach breathing techniques. Russia has more doctors that teach respiratory methods than the number of such doctors in the rest of the world.
|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 coffee, 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|
How to choose proper respiratory techniques?
Proper respiratory exercises should satisfy certain criteria in order to be useful for health of the breathing retraining student. One of the things to consider is that the general approach of any breath technique should take our automatic or unconscious breathing pattern 24/7 into consideration, and not only suggest doing some breathing exercises.
In other words, what is the point of doing respiratory exercises, if one sleeps with his mouth open and on his back every night? He can practice best breathing exercises for several hours every day, but he can still die from advance of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, bronchitis, or other chronic disease due to the Sleep Heavy Breathing Effect, which is the main triggering factor leading to acute episodes (exacerbations) and deaths in the severely sick.
This Table explains why sick people have low body-oxygen levels.
Minute ventilation rates (chronic diseases)
| All references or
click below for abstracts
|Normal breathing||6 L/min||-||Medical textbooks|
|Healthy Subjects||6-7 L/min||>400||Results of 14 studies|
|Heart disease||15 (+-4) L/min||22||Dimopoulou et al, 2001|
|Heart disease||16 (+-2) L/min||11||Johnson et al, 2000|
|Heart disease||12 (+-3) L/min||132||Fanfulla et al, 1998|
|Heart disease||15 (+-4) L/min||55||Clark et al, 1997|
|Heart disease||13 (+-4) L/min||15||Banning et al, 1995|
|Heart disease||15 (+-4) L/min||88||Clark et al, 1995|
|Heart disease||14 (+-2) L/min||30||Buller et al, 1990|
|Heart disease||16 (+-6) L/min||20||Elborn et al, 1990|
|Pulm hypertension||12 (+-2) L/min||11||D'Alonzo et al, 1987|
|Cancer||12 (+-2) L/min||40||Travers et al, 2008|
|Diabetes||12-17 L/min||26||Bottini et al, 2003|
|Diabetes||15 (+-2) L/min||45||Tantucci et al, 2001|
|Diabetes||12 (+-2) L/min||8||Mancini et al, 1999|
|Diabetes||10-20 L/min||28||Tantucci et al, 1997|
|Diabetes||13 (+-2) L/min||20||Tantucci et al, 1996|
|Asthma||13 (+-2) L/min||16||Chalupa et al, 2004|
|Asthma||15 L/min||8||Johnson et al, 1995|
|Asthma||14 (+-6) L/min||39||Bowler et al, 1998|
|Asthma||13 (+-4) L/min||17||Kassabian et al, 1982|
|Asthma||12 L/min||101||McFadden, Lyons, 1968|
|COPD||14 (+-2) L/min||12||Palange et al, 2001|
|COPD||12 (+-2) L/min||10||Sinderby et al, 2001|
|COPD||14 L/min||3||Stulbarg et al, 2001|
|Sleep apnea||15 (+-3) L/min||20||Radwan et al, 2001|
|Liver cirrhosis||11-18 L/min||24||Epstein et al, 1998|
|Hyperthyroidism||15 (+-1) L/min||42||Kahaly, 1998|
|Cystic fibrosis||15 L/min||15||Fauroux et al, 2006|
|Cystic fibrosis||10 L/min||11||Browning et al, 1990|
|Cystic fibrosis*||10 L/min||10||Ward et al, 1999|
|CF and diabetes*||10 L/min||7||Ward et al, 1999|
|Cystic fibrosis||16 L/min||7||Dodd et al, 2006|
|Cystic fibrosis||18 L/min||9||McKone et al, 2005|
|Cystic fibrosis*||13 (+-2) L/min||10||Bell et al, 1996|
|Cystic fibrosis||11-14 L/min||6||Tepper et al, 1983|
|Epilepsy||13 L/min||12||Esquivel et al, 1991|
|CHV||13 (+-2) L/min||134||Han et al, 1997|
|Panic disorder||12 (+-5) L/min||12||Pain et al, 1991|
|Bipolar disorder||11 (+-2) L/min||16||MacKinnon et al, 2007|
|Dystrophia myotonica||16 (+-4) L/min||12||Clague et al, 1994|
Note that advanced stages of asthma can lead to lung destruction, ventilation-perfusion mismatch,
and arterial hypercapnia causing further reduction in body oxygen levels.
Therefore, proper breathing techniques should also have answers to the
- What is ideal breathing (or the ideal unconscious breathing pattern) for maximum body-oxygen content? Note that it is not enough to only think about the maximum oxygen content in the lungs or arterial blood. Oxygen is required in all body cells.
- Which respiratory exercises improve or increase oxygen content in cells?
- What are the common breathing patterns and what are their effects on body-oxygen content?
- What is the exact direction of the respiratory exercises?
- What are the effects of lifestyle factors?
Some features of proper respiratory techniques
* Out of several hundred Russian Frolov MDs, only a small group of these medical professionals consider the effects of lifestyle on breathing retraining.
The understanding of respiratory exercises comes from the knowledge of breathing parameters in both sick and healthy people as well as the effects of breathing patterns on cells' oxygen levels (see links to medical studies below).
Respiratory exercises can improve one's health only if they make one's breathing pattern after the breathing session lighter and slower in terms of minute ventilation. In this case, the student also increases their body oxygen content, which is measured with the simple body-oxygen test. Hence, the personal goal is to achieve a slow and shallow (but diaphragmatic) unconscious breathing pattern manifested in better results for the body O2 test. In the long run, better morning results (for this test) reflect the efficiency of a proper breathing retraining technique.
Video: Respiratory Techniques and the morning body-O2 test
In relation to healthy lifestyle factors, the Buteyko breathing technique is the most advanced breath technique, and only Hatha Yoga comes close. In relation to breathing exercises, the Buteyko method produces good results.
However, most students achieve a faster CP progress when using breathing devices, e.g., the Frolov breathing device or the DIY breathing device. While there are now hundreds of MDs in Russia who promote or endorse the Frolov device, very few of them understand and explain to their patients the importance of having correct life style factors.
Important note. The optimum breathing retraining program for a typical student with a chronic disease (hence, with less than 20 s for the body-oxygen test) includes breathwork with a breathing device (that traps a part of exhaled air) and an adherence to Buteyko lifestyle factors.
Yoga Benefits: How to get best benefits from this amazing ancient practice? Traditional yoga has been teaching us to breathe less, while modern yoga leaders confuse the public about correct breathing, ideal breathing, and the effects of CO2.
Pursed lip breathing web page provides an overview of this breath method, the health conditions it addressed (mostly COPD, but many others too), detailed instructions on how to use it, its physiology, and effects.
Breathslim is a breathing device that is featured on the Breathslim website. The Breathslim device is an exact copy of the Frolov breathing device developed by Vladimir Frolov. Can it help with weight loss?
The Samozdrav breathing device is another patented Russian invention based on Dr. Buteyko's discoveries and CO2 effects. Its creators also worked for Soviet Cosmos (Outer Space Research), and they suggested 4 levels of learning...
Resperate is a FDA-approved portable device for slow-paced breathing sessions. It had 10 clinical trials on patients with hypertension and could lead to moderate reduction in blood pressure ...
Inspiratory Muscle Training (also known as IMT) can be done using various respiratory trainers or breathing devices, such as Powerbreathe, Expand-A-Lung, PowerLung and Ultrabreathe. They are all presented below.
Powerbreathe is a breathing device used, as the authors and creators claim, to train inspiratory muscles only. It is mostly used for sport performance, but there are medical applications as well.
Expand-A-Lung breathing resistance exerciser is a more recent breathing trainer used to strengthen respiratory muscles due to resistance, which can be regulated.w
PowerLung is a device that creates resistance during both inhalations and exhalations. PowerLung has some popularity, especially among athletes....
Ultrabreathe: Review of Ultrabreathe Breathing Device suggests that, as with other Western devices, there is one missing factor in training and analysis of effects.
Training Mask is currently the most effective device for physical exercise. This is the only breathing device that can be used during physical activity. It increases CO2 levels in the lungs, increases body O2, VO2 max, endurance, ...
Is etCO2 (end-tidal CO2) or capnography useful for breathing retraining? Can capnometers improve the effectiveness of breathing exercises or could it worsen the outcomes? Capnography and etCO2 web page....
Warning. Breathing exercises can cause powerful cleansing reactions and can be dangerous for pregnant women, people with organ transplants, GI problems, and panic attacks, as well as those who take medication for diabetes, hypertension, hypothyroidism, and other conditions. Consult your health care provider and follow special guidelines, which can be found in the Module Restrictions, limits, and temporary contraindications.
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