How breathing can improve your quality of life.

The way that you sit every day in front of the computer seriously damages your health. You are probably not aware, but the posture you adopt to send emails or to hold meetings on Zoom , with your shoulders hunched forward and your head slightly forward, makes it difficult for air to enter through your nose and you end up breathing through your mouth.

And what difference does it make if the important thing is that in the end the air enters and leaves the lungs? Well, it matters, and much more than you imagine.

Being a mouth breather brings about health problems, and this reality affects almost half of the population, as reflected in two independent studies carried out in Brazil in 2005 and 2010. The causes are many: from that bad posture adopted when writing emails to nasal obstruction through stress, allergies, dry air, pollution or even the shape of our palate, which grows upwards (in V) because evolution and especially the diet based on soft diets have changed our physiognomy. The jaws develop less, the mouths are not wide enough and the palate ends up ascending, which prevents the development of the nasal cavity, explains the scientific journalist James Nestor in the book Breathe (Planet).

Be it for one reason or another, breathing through the mouth leads to health problems, which Nestor himself experienced when he signed up for a medical experiment that forced him to spend a month with a blocked nose, breathing exclusively through his mouth. In the first week you already noticed the effects.

“My blood pressure has skyrocketed an average of thirteen points, which leaves me in phase 1 hypertension. Left unchecked, this state of chronically high blood pressure can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and other serious problems. My heart rate variability, an indicator of the balance of the nervous system, has plummeted, which suggests that my body is in a state of stress. Then there is my pulse, which has increased, the body temperature that has decreased, and my mental clarity, which has hit rock bottom, “says the author, who turned into a mouth breather began to snore, to get fatigued when exercising, to feel more thirsty and suffering from stomach pains.

“My life was like anyone else’s. A lot of work, a lot of stress, but also exercise, a good diet and eight hours of sleep. Yet I still fell ill with moderate bronchitis and pneumonia every year. They said it was normal “

The experiment, led by Dr. Jayakar V. Nayak, Stanford’s head of rhinological research , came some time after his doctor told him: “You could use some breathing classes.” “At that time my life was a bit like that of anyone who lives in a city. A lot of work, a lot of stress, but I was also exercising, eating the right way and getting eight hours of sleep a day. Even so, he fell ill every year with moderate bronchitis and pneumonia. The point is that they told me that it was normal to suffer from these respiratory diseases, ”he explains.

Ten years after receiving that recommendation, his life has totally changed as shown in the book that he subtitles The New Science of a Forgotten Art, and which he assures does not intend to focus on his journey: studies, and experts ”.

His life after those classes, and what he learned in the five years of study he invested to write Breathe , has changed. “Is this going to make everyone experience the same benefits? Not necessarily. Nor can it be said that eating a healthy diet or exercising a lot will make us have perfect health, nor will it fix our problems. I would say that breathing is one more pillar, along with food and physical exercise, to have a better quality of life ”, he adds.

A world of bad breathers

To do this, the first thing is to become aware of how we inhale and how we exhale. “It is the most important thing,” explains Nestor, who suggests that by becoming aware “we are going to realize that we are very bad breathers.”

This is not just because many of us breathe through our mouths. Our capacity has been changing and the way we do it has worsened since the Industrial Revolution. “90% of us – most likely me, you and almost everyone you know – do it incorrectly and this defect is either causing or aggravating a list of endless chronic diseases,” he adds in the book.

“We are overbreathing and this increases our tension, our heart rate and expends more energy to make things worse in the end”

“It is clear that many of us could do better, more efficiently,” explains the journalist. “Apparently we are making an extra effort, we are overbreathing. This increases our tension, our heart rate and that we are expending more energy to ultimately make things worse. The goal should be to breathe more efficiently. In that sense, I consider that our being bad has to be seen as an opportunity to improve and what I am trying to do is provide the necessary information to make this happen ”, he adds.

The good news is that those problems caused by bad breath are, for the most part, modern diseases that “could be reduced or reversed by changing the way we breathe in and breathe in.” He cites asthma, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or psoriasis as examples. But they are not the only health problems that can improve with good technique. Scoliosis, headaches or some lung diseases are also treated, but breathing better is not always the cure, it is also prevention, such as physical exercise and healthy eating

Breathe well to live better

Precisely “breathe better” is the advice that Dr. Andrew Weil says he would give his children if he could only give them a key to have a healthier life.

And by breathing better, we mean doing it more efficiently. “It is neither breathing too much nor breathing too little, it is doing it according to the needs of our body”, explains Nestor, who recalls that the first thing to do is close your mouth. “It is inhaling through the nose, which in the end is the easiest way to do it. If you think about it, hyperventilating through the nose is complicated, however hyperventilating through the mouth is a very common thing ”.

“Breathing better is breathing through your nose, which is the easiest way to do it. If you think about it, hyperventilating through the nose is complicated, doing it through the mouth is common “

“The nose is crucial because it cleans the air, warms it and moistens it so that it is easier to absorb,” writes Nestor. “Most of us know this, but what many people don’t know is the unexpected role of the nose in problems like erectile dysfunction. Or how you can unleash a cascade of hormones and chemicals that lower blood pressure and make it easier to distinguish. How it responds to the phases of the menstrual cycle in women. How it regulates the heart rate, opens the blood vessels in our toes, and stores memories. Or how the density of the hairs that we have in the nose determines whether we will suffer from asthma ”, he adds in the book.

The problem has been that nobody has taught us to breathe or the benefits of doing it correctly. I would say that breathing is something so simple and so simple that we do not give it importance. The most obvious and simplest things, which are before our eyes, for some strange reason we consider that they are not significant or not important. It is hard for us to think that something so simple can be so powerful, ”he explains.

“We could make a parallel with what happened with food for decades. Many doctors considered that it did not matter what we ate if we then took a supplement with the necessary vitamins. Now we know that it is false and we are returning to the way of eating of our ancestors, simple, more natural foods “, says Nestor, who is convinced that” something similar could happen with breathing. ”

Exercises to test the benefits of breathing better

Exercise 1

“It is very simple, so much so that no one would think that it is so positive, but by doing it you see very clearly the effect they have on our brains and our hearts”, explains Nestor.

  1. Inhale for a count of 5 or 6.
  2. Exhale for a count of 5 or 6.

“It’s about doing it smoothly, slowly. We don’t need to put on our yoga pants or look at the Buddha, just do it slowly, lightly. It’s a few minutes a day and you don’t have to listen to your breath. It is a very subtle thing ”, explains the journalist, who assures that this exercise“ has transformative effects on our heart and our brain ”.

Exercise 2

Before doing so, you have to become aware of how breathing works. “We place our hand on the heart, inhale for a count of five and exhale for a count of five, thus we will realize that our heart rate increases slightly when we inhale and when we exhale it decreases. That is because the inhalations are connected with our sympathetic response and our exhalations are related to the relaxation; so if we exhale more we are calmer ”, he explains.

  1. It would be inhaling for a count of four.
  2. Hold the air for a count of seven.
  3. And then exhale the air for a count of eight.

“That would make us relax and calm down a lot,” says Nestor, who recommends the technique before sleeping, if you are on a plane, in a situation where you need to relax.


by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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