We Do Not Notice Our Heavy Breathing
Usually, people notice that their breathing is heavy when they breathe more than 25 L/min at rest (or 4 times more than the physiological norm). Why is this? First, there are cultural or social reasons related to the modern perception of breathing. Since most people believe in various breathing myths, especially the deep breathing myth, they naturally assume, for example, during times of stress that deep breathing provides them with more oxygen and oxygen is very important for health and wellbeing. Hence, instead of being alarmed by their heavy breathing triggered by whatever reasons, many people even "help" their breathing to be deeper and faster, while others never learned or were taught that healthy breathing should be very light and slow. They simply "let it go" in all types of abnormal situations (lifestyle risk factors), like overeating, sleeping on one's back, breathing through the mouth, slouching, overheating or abnormal heat exchange, and many others.
For the same reasons, mouth breathing, for example, also became common, socially acceptable and even popular, among cover photo girls, about 20-30 years ago. Many decades ago, the reactions of people to mouth breathing were very different. Most people would (correctly) decide that something horribly wrong took place with the mouth breather.
Another reason of our poor awareness about our breathing relates to mechanics of breathing. Air is weightless, and breathing muscles are powerful. During rigorous physical exercise we can breathe up to 100-150 l/min. Some athletes can breathe up to 200 l/min. So it is easy to breathe "only" 10-15 l/min at rest (or about 10% of our maximum capacity), throughout the day and night and not be aware of this rate of breathing. However, in health, we should breathe only about 3-4% of our maximum breathing rate.
It is nevertheless normal during rigorous exercise to breathe, 50 or more l/min since, while exercising, CO2 and O2 concentrations in the arterial blood can remain nearly the same as at rest.
How one can check changes in own breathing rate
It is not easy to notice changes in breathing even for many advanced breathing students. The solution of this challenge is the CP or body oxygenation test (stress-free breath-holding time after usual exhalation) that provides an accurate assessment of one's breathing for over 95% of people. [There is only a small group of people with panic, anxiety, migraines, and hypertension who should temporary avoid this stress-free test due to unpleasant symptoms and stress that can appear after the test and present for many hours or minutes afterwards. They can control their health progress using their heart rate.]
Hence, if your breathing rate (or minute volume) at rest slightly increases due to risk lifestyle factors, your CP will be the most accurate measurement tool to notice the change. It is an indispensable test to check your breathing changes in the morning (immediately after waking up), for nutritional deficiencies, physical exercise (next morning CP), overeating, and many other situations.
Conclusion: The CP is an accurate test that will help you to notice even slight changes in your breathing. Use it, if it is safe for you, in all type of situations to monitor how your organism reacts to environmental and other changes.
Reference pages: Breathing norms and the DIY body oxygen test:
- Breathing norms: Parameters, graph, and description of the normal breathing pattern
- Body-oxygen test (CP test) : How to measure your own breathing and body oxygenation (two in one) using a simple DIY test
References: pages about CO2 effect:
- Vasodilation: CO2 expands arteries and arterioles facilitating perfusion (or blood supply) to all vital organs
- The Bohr effect: How and why oxygen is released by red blood cells in body tissues
- Nerve stabilization: Carbon dioxide has powerful calmative and sedative effects on brain neurons and nerve cells
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