Breathing Techniques for Running: Maximize Body-O2 Levels

Girl running with nose breathing technique Breathing techniques for running should be considered with one specific goal in mind: how to maximize oxygenation of the body (or oxygen delivery to muscle cells) during running and at rest. Automatic breathing patterns at rest influence body oxygenation at rest, our automatic breathing techniques for running, and VO2max during exercise or endurance.

We control the following respiratory parameters in order to choose the best breathing techniques for running: chest vs. belly (diaphragmatic) breathing; mouth vs. nose breathing; breathing frequency with breathing patterns; and tidal volume (the amount of air per one breath). However, before considering all these factors, we are going to analyze effects of body oxygenation at rest on physical fitness, endurance, and automatic breathing techniques for running..

Table. MV (Minute Ventilation) and Rf (Respiratory Frequency) at rest

Condition MV, L/min Rf, breaths/min Oxygen
extraction, %
Breath pattern References
(click below for details)
Diseases* 12-18 >18 <12 % Overbreathing Over 40 studies
Healthy 6-7 10-12 25 % Normal Results of 14 studies
Norm 6 12 25 % Normal Medical textbooks
Super-health 2 3 >60 % Ideal Observations/yoga
*Chronic diseases include heart disease, diabetes, asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis, cancer, and many others. Study Hyperventilation Syndrome for references and numbers.

As it is easy to observe, heavy breathing at rest results in relatively heavy breathing during exercise and that makes moderate or intensive exercise in the sick very difficult or impossible.

Table. Minute ventilation during moderate exercise (15-fold metabolism)

Condition Minute
Short-term respiratory effects Blood lactate Duration of performance
Chronic diseases About 150 L/min Maximum mouth ventilation Very high A few minutes
Normal breathing 90 L/min Heavy nose breathing Elevated 1-2 hours
Super health states 30 L/min Easy nose breathing Nearly normal Many hours

Breathing techniques for running: how to maximize fitness and body O2

Effects of over breathing on brain oxygen levels While most people believe that we need to breathe more air, medical research tells us the exact opposite story. The slower and less we breathe at rest, the more oxygen and less lactic acid we have in body cells. The reasons are simple: when we breathe even 2-3 times less than the medical norm or 3-5 times more than the norm, our blood oxygenation remains about the same. The main effect of hyperventilation is less CO2 and that causes vasoconstriction (spasm of blood vessels) and the suppressed Bohr effect (see links for medical research below).

Breathing techniques for running: chest vs. diaphragm

Since lower parts of the lungs get about 6-7 times richer blood supply due to effects of gravity, diaphragmatic breathing during exercise is a vital part of correct breathing techniques for running. Abdominal breathing, therefore, is a must for excellent physical health and maximum body oxygenation. However, if you don't have automatic abdominal breathing at rest or during sleep, you are likely to have chest breathing during exercise. That worsens endurance and physical fitness. Chest breathing is exceptionally common in modern athletes and ordinary people, and one needs to get over 30 seconds for the body-oxygen test 24/7 in order to enjoy automatic diaphragmatic breathing at rest and during exercise.

Breathing techniques for running: nose vs. mouth

If you want to impress your friends and people of the opposite gender by your running speed, and if you do not care about your breathing techniques for running, mouth breathing will likely be the best choice for all those people who have low body oxygenation.

With more than 60 seconds for the body-oxygen test, mouth breathing will not provide you any advantages even for sport contests.

Furthermore, any athlete can easily prove that, for the same intensity of running, mouth breathing causes increased heart rate up to 7-10 beats per minute in comparison with nose breathing only (in and out). The reasons are in two biochemical factors: nasal nitric oxide (a powerful hormone and vasodilator that we generate in sinuses) and carbon dioxide (most potent known vasodilator - see links below). Mouth breathing reduces concentrations of these chemicals in the lung and arterial blood causing double spasm of blood vessels.

Therefore, many modern fitness instructors and coaches teach that we need to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Other people advise combined nasal and oral breathing as the preferred breathing techniques for running. However, the best breathing techniques for running are based on strictly nasal breathing since it stimulates high altitude training and produces the most profound effect on VO2max growth, and higher hemoglobin levels and body oxygenation at rest in the long run.

Breathing techniques for running: rate and tidal volume

Depending on intensity of running, minute ventilation, and body oxygenation at rest (i.e., alveolar CO2 and tissue O2 levels), the breathing center naturally adjusts respiratory rates and tidal volumes during running. Many athletes and coaches may find that a certain rhythm of breathing (i.e., 2 steps inhale, 2 steps exhale) allows better physical performance. This is probably true for their current or specific physiological parameters.

However, in order to get maximum benefits from running, it is better to limit your ventilation slightly by taking less air through the nose and extending the exhale. With less than 20 s for the body-oxygen test, breathing manipulations during running are very hard due to too heavy breathing and low efficiency of O2 absorption. With over 30 s, it is much easier to have nose breathing and manipulate these two factors in order to get best benefits for endurance, VO2max, recovery rates, and overall health.

Tarahumara running: 100 km every day!?

Tarahumara are native Indians living in Mexico. Running for very long distances is a part of their culture and daily life. For example, when hunting for wild animals, they simply run after them, until these animals, after hours of escape, drop from exhaustion. Many Tarahumara runners can run up to 100 km barefoot every day without problems with recovery and injuries. Even elite long distance runners cannot endure 50 km per day. What are the causes or the secrets of Tarahumara running? Some people believe that they can run better due to their simple Tarahumara running sandals or Tarahumara running style.

Tarahumara runningMale Tarahumara runningHere are some pictures of Tarahumara running. You can watch YouTube videos with Tarahumara running style. Then you can discover that nose breathing during running is nearly the norm and provides the key to understanding legendary Tarahumara running. If you think that nose breathing is uncommon and these are not typical pictures of Tarahumara runners, search on YouTube for "Tarahumara running" and watch them running. You will discover that their breathing techniques for running are based either on only nasal breathing (in and out), or, for some Tarahumara Mexicans, mainly nasal breathing, while their mouth can sometimes be partially open.

What are the biochemical advantages of Tarahumara running with nose breathing? Strictly nasal breathing during running (in and out) produces the following effects on gas composition in the lungs in comparison with mouth breathing:

- increased utilization of nasal NO (nitric oxide)

- decreased O2 levels (as for high altitude training)

- increased CO2 levels in the lungs.

In fact, due to higher CO2, strictly nasal breathing techniques for running at sea level are even better than high altitude training. Nose breathing is hard for the unfit or poorly oxygenated people with heavy breathing at rest, but most beneficial for training and long term improvements in physical fitness, long-term endurance and VO2max.

Strictly nasal breathing techniques for running cause slower breathing and increased body-oxygen levels at rest later, after exercise and especially during the next night's sleep. Therefore, it is suggested here that Tarahumara running secret is based on slow breathing at rest with alveolar and arterial CO2 slightly above the norm (40 mm Hg). Nose breathing drastically reduces anaerobic respiration in cells and lactic acid production accelerating recovery after long runs. The Tarahumara running technique causes the following effect: the longer you run, the better you are able to run.

Barefoot running or Tarahumara running sandals can provide additional advantages, while Tarahumara running form and Tarahumara running style could also make slight contributions. How? Barefoot running provides physical contact with Earth and, therefore, creates conditions for electrical grounding of the human body. Electrons from Earth act as antioxidants (antioxidants neutralize free radicals by donating them electrons). Medical studies indeed found that a grounded human body has reduced blood viscosity (G. Chevalier, S. T. Sinatra, J. L. Oschman, and R. M. Delany, “Grounding the human body reduces blood viscosity—a major factor in cardiovascular disease,” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2012.) Obviously, this is an additional positive factor in O2 delivery since most athletes wear shoes that insulate them from Earth's electrical potential.

Bottom line for breathing techniques for running and Tarahumara running. If you breathe slower and less at rest (for automatic breathing), you have more oxygen in body cells while resting and much higher oxygen utilization rate. As a result of these factors, you are going to breathe less during exercise, have natural nasal breathing even at high intensity, and use inhaled oxygen much more effectively. Grounding the body (Earthing) is an important additional factor.

If you interested in extreme sports or super fitness, consider using Training Mask for cardio exercises. It will help you to improve your fitness, VO2max and develop optimum breathing techniques for running. Application of Training Mask allows you to double exercise efficiency. You can learn more about physiology of this sport device here: Training Mask.

Elevation Training Mask 2.0

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

Web pages about cardiovascular endurance, physical exercise, running, body building, and sports:
- Cardiovascular endurance and body O2 levels: How brain and body oxygenation influence cardiovascular endurance, desire to exercise, fitness-related lifestyle factors and physical health
- Physical health: It is impossible without high body-oxygen levels since low tissue oxygenation promotes chronic fatigue, diseases and abnormal states of the mind
- Breathing techniques for running: Which breathing techniques provide maximum body oxygenation at rest and during running?
- Benefits of physical activity: The main benefits of correct physical activity for health are due to more oxygen in body cells. Learn how to exercise correctly to get maximum benefits from exercise and sports
- Benefits of running correctly include increased cell and body-oxygen levels provided that you run with nose breathing only (in and out) mimicking some effects of high-altitude training
- Altitude training especially at really high altitude helps to improve O2 transport due to hypoxic effects. This improves VO2max and endurance. However, one does not need to train or run at high altitude in order to get maximum sports and endurance benefits. Learh how you can get more benefits at the sea level.
- Effects of exercise on the respiratory system: They are short-term and long-term and mainly depend on your breathing route: mouth vs. nose breathing
- Effects of lifestyle factors on sport performance are individual, but they all relate to increased O2 levels in body cells
- How to build more body muscle with less diet protein: Bodybuilding does not require as much protein in one's diet to build muscles if the body cells are well oxygenated due to correct breathing 24/7
- Natural bodybuilding requires high body oxygen levels in order to be safe, beneficial for health, and really natural
- Graded exercise therapy: How to Make It Very Effective: Graded exercise therapy can be very beneficial, if it is done with one old key rule: nose breathing only
- Training Mask: Most advanced forms of physical exercise to boost body oxygenation, VO2max, endurance, and health.

Short sport and fitness articles: Breathing at rest, cardiovascular endurance and sport performance:
- Simple breathing exercise for higher VO2max
- Changing VO2max by breathing differently at rest
- Exercise is joy only when 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

You can leave your feedback and comments below. Thanks.

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...

privacy policy