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How Does Breathing Change During Exercise

by Lyndon Langley
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How Does Breathing Change During Exercise

How Does Breathing Change During Exercise

Your lungs take in the right amount of oxygen every second so that they can keep all your organs functioning properly. When you breathe faster or deeper, your blood pressure increases because it is sending more blood towards your heart at once time. This makes sure that your heart gets enough blood to pump efficiently through your whole body. In order for your heart to do its job well, it needs enough oxygenated blood. The same goes for your brain. Your brain receives oxygen directly from the bloodstream. If there’s not enough oxygenated blood going to your brain, then your mental performance will suffer.
During any kind of physical activity — whether you’re running on an elliptical trainer or just walking around the block — the rate at which you breathe changes according to how hard your physical exertion is. You may notice yourself taking short breaths if you’re exercising lightly or longer breaths if you’re working out really hard. However, regardless of what level of intensity you’re working toward, your breath must be regulated in order to maintain adequate levels of oxygenation.
Breathe in oxygen-rich air. Oxygen is one of the most important things you need while you’re moving or sitting still. It is vital for life itself. Without oxygen, our bodies wouldn’t function properly. Our lungs absorb atmospheric oxygen into our blood stream and distribute it throughout the rest of the body. We actually use two types of cells in our bodies: red blood cells and white blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the tissues where it is needed, and white blood cells help fight off infections, protect us against disease, and repair damaged tissue. Both these processes require oxygen.
The amount of oxygen we consume depends upon how much oxygen-carrying capacity our blood has. Blood is made up mainly of plasma and hemoglobin, which carries oxygen molecules called “oxygens.” Hemoglobin is the protein molecule responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body. Most people don’t realize that their blood contains as many as four different kinds of proteins, including hemoglobin, myoglobin, cytochromes and albumins. These proteins have specific functions within the body. For example, myoglobin is used by muscle cells to store energy. Cytochromes are used by neurons to conduct electrical impulses. Albumin is produced by the liver and distributed throughout the entire body. All of these proteins have a common purpose: They allow oxygen to pass freely between the lung capillaries and various parts of the body.
Oxygen is also essential for the human immune system. Cells in your immune system produce enzymes that convert oxygen to reactive forms called free radicals. Free radicals cause cell damage and can lead to cancerous tumors. Fortunately, your body has antioxidant systems in place to neutralize free radical damage. While antioxidants cannot reverse the effects of free radicals, they can prevent them from occurring in the first place. Antioxidants include vitamins A, C, E and beta carotene; minerals such as selenium, zinc, manganese and copper; and phytochemicals like polyphenols, flavonoids, catechins and resveratrol.
As you might expect, exercise affects how quickly your body takes in oxygen and gives back to the lungs a portion of the carbon dioxide you exhale. As long as you stay hydrated, your sweat should contain enough salt to regulate your internal temperature. Sweating helps to cool down your skin and regulates your core body temperature. But sweating alone does not provide enough water to replace the fluid loss caused by perspiration. That’s why drinking plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise is so important. Water is the best choice. Other liquids, such as fruit juice, sports drinks, milk and alcoholic beverages, can dilute the sodium chloride in your urine and make dehydration worse.
Regulate your breathing. Regulating your breathing means controlling the number of breaths per minute. At rest, a person breathes approximately 14 breaths per minute. During moderate exercise, you’ll typically breathe 20 to 30 breaths per minutes. And during intense exercise, you may need 50 to 60 breaths per minute. Why is regulating your breathing so important? Because it allows your body to exchange the necessary gases to fuel proper function. Taking in too many or too few breaths could affect how effectively your body exchanges gas.
Take a deep breath. Deep diaphragmatic breathing exercises involve expanding the chest, abdomen and rib cage. By doing this, you encourage fresh oxygen to move into your bloodstream. You inhale deeply and slowly through the nose and exhale through pursed lips. Repeat this process several times until your lungs feel full. Once you’ve mastered this technique, try taking deep breaths through your nostrils or your mouth instead of your nose.
Keep your head upright. Keeping your head straight keeps your neck and spine healthy. Bend forward over a countertop or squatting position puts undue stress on your lower back.
Don’t hold your breath. Don’t stop mid-breath to catch your breath. Instead, let go of any tension and relax completely.
Inhale through your nose. Make sure you exhale fully through your mouth. Do not breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Doing so causes you to lose valuable oxygen and carbon dioxide. Also, exhaling through your mouth prevents you from swallowing any stale air. Swallowing stale air can aggravate asthma symptoms or bronchitis.
Pay attention to your pulse. Pay close attention to your pulse. Count your pulse for 10 seconds and multiply that number by six. The result is the number of beats in each minute. This figure represents the average number of pulses per minute and varies slightly among individuals.
If you experience tightness in the chest area, difficulty breathing or hyperventilation, loosen your clothing and remove excess weight. Take slow, relaxed breaths.
Breathe evenly. Even breathing helps you breathe better. Let your belly rise and fall with each inhalation and exhalation. Keep your shoulders relaxed and avoid tensing your upper torso.
Breathe in smoothly. Try to fill your lungs completely without forcing air in. Exhale naturally through pursed lips. Relax your abdominal muscles and exhale completely through your mouth.
Breathe only when you need to. If you find yourself holding your breath or breathing fast, slow down. Focus on relaxing your body and concentrating on your breathing.

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