by Amy Poulson
The other day someone asked me how to properly breathe while exercising. She was told, in order to get enough oxygen, it all had to be done through the nose. She was worried because nose breathing made her feel as if she wasn't getting enough air. She didn't like it and asked if she HAD to do it. I quickly shook my head and said, "Nah, just do what feels right and gets the most air into your body."
Later I questioned my answer. Maybe there is a certain, correct, technical way you should breathe while exercising, maybe it has evaded me thus far, maybe there is much more to this than I know. I spent the afternoon researching on the internet. Yes, that is correct, I spent the afternoon trying to learn how to breathe. Even though I have been breathing since the first minute of my life, even though I have been breathing while exerting myself since I was a year old.
My findings were this: Every website said something completely different. Some said breathe only through the nose, some said only through the mouth, some said in through the nose and out through the mouth, etc. The ONLY thing they all had in common was that they ALL said the bottom line was to find the way to get the most oxygen into your body with each breath and the most CO2 out.
That seems right. Breathing is one of the most basic of human functions. It is the one thing your body has down PAT. It is one of the few things your body can do well with, or without your voluntary input. While respiration is utterly important, it is hard to do completely wrong. From the research I've done, it seems the worse thing you can do to mess up your breathing is to go against your own nature and try to correct something which was NOT broken in the first place.
If you find you have trouble breathing. If you experience persistent side cramps, dizziness, shortness of breath (haha - who doesn't with a GPP workout?), yawning, or poor performance, you might benefit from some specific coaching to learn to breathe better. This is especially true if you've ruled out medical problems, lack of fitness, poor nutrition, poor hydration, high stress, lack of sleep and etc. Otherwise, through your mouth, nose, ears, etc won't really matter much. Your body knows what to do instinctively. Just do what feels right and gets the most air into and out of your body.