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Proper Breathing Exercises for Body O2, Health and Sports

[author_ author_name=“Artour“] [reviser_ reviser_name=“Reviewer1“]
- Last updated on August 9, 2018

Effects of overbreathing on brain oxygen levelsOne can spend months or years practicing some breathing exercises, but if one's 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 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

Hatha yoga Pursed lip breathing Strelnikova breathing gymnastic Buteyko breathing method Frolov breathing device RESPeRATE guided- breathing device
When created Prior to 16-th century Before 1910 Late 1930s-early 1970s 1960’s 1990’s 1990’s
Who created Yogi Swatmarama Patients Alexandra Nikolaevna Strelnikova Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko Vladimir Frolov &
Eugeniy Kustov
Benjamin Gavish
Major publications “Hatha Yoga Pradipika” by Yogi Swatmarama Many articles and trials “Strelnikova breathing gymnastic” by Michael Schetinin (in RUS) Many books, articles and trials “Endogenous breathing: medicine of the third millennium” by Vladimir Frolov (in RUS) -
Patents and applications None None USSR,1972 Applications and patents USSR,1991; Russia,1998 USA,1998 USA, 1998
Number of students Many tens of millions >100,000 (worldwide) >50,000 (mainly in Russia) >500,000 (half in Russia) >1,000,000 (over 95% in Russia) 100,000 (in western countries)
Which conditions Chronic diseases COPD, asthma, asthma in children, emphysema, stroke, autonomic failure, primary hypertension, major abdominal surgery, cystic fibrosis, myasthenia gravis, myotonic muscular dystrophy, autonomic failure Some chronic diseases Chronic diseases Chronic diseases Hypertension
Clinical trials Numerous, worldwide Numerous,
No trials, but some MDs' reports Numerous,
Numerous, Russia 10 western clinical trials

Medical people smilingNote that the "Russian dominance" in this Table reflects the current situation related to the popularity of some proper breathing 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, Ph.D. 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.

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

How to choose proper respiratory techniques?

Medical doctors and patientProper respiratory exercises should satisfy certain criteria in order to be useful for the health of the breathing retraining student. One of the things to consider is that the general approach of any breath technique should take our 24/7 automatic or unconscious breathing pattern into consideration, and not only suggest doing some breathing exercises.

In other words, what is the point of doing respiratory exercises, if you sleep with your mouth open and on your back every night? One can practice the best breathing exercises for several hours every day, but one can still die from advance of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, bronchitis, or other chronic diseases 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.

Breathing rates in healthy, normal people vs diseases

CO2 the key factor of best respiratory techniquesTherefore, proper breathing techniques should also have answers to the following questions:
- What is the ideal breathing (or 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

Traditional Hatha yoga Pursed lip breathing Strelnikova paradoxical breathing gymnastic Buteyko breathing method Frolov breathing device RESPeRATE guided- breathing device
Diaphragmatic breathing during breathwork Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Lifestyle factors addressed Yes No No Yes No* No
Learnt without an instructor No Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Constant breath control No No No Yes No No
Strict criteria of progress/ success Yes No No Yes Yes Yes

* Out of several hundred Russian Frolov MDs, only a small group of these medical professionals consider the effects of lifestyle on breathing retraining.

Since I have taught breathing retraining to hundreds of my students, I can provide you, right below here (in the next paragraph), the name of the optimum breathing technique that produces fastest and easiest results. It is your bonus content.

Tweet or Share this page to reveal the bonus content.

Mouth breathing peopleThe 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 our cells' oxygen levels (see links to medical studies below).

Respiratory exercises can only improve one's health 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, which in turn manifests 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.

How to choose breathing techniques

This video suggests testing breathing techniques by using a simple morning body-O2 test: Breath Techniques


In relation to healthy lifestyle factors, the Buteyko breathing technique is the most advanced breath technique, 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 lifestyle factors.

Important note. The optimum breathing retraining program for a typical student with a chronic disease (and thus, 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 the 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.

The Pursed lip breathing web page provides an overview of this breath method, the health conditions it addresses (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 an FDA-approved portable device for slow-paced breathing sessions. It had 10 clinical trials on patients with hypertension and could lead to a 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 sports 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.


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 sign 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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