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The weight of breathing

As we enter a new year, the most common resolutions are to lose weight, eat healthier and exercise. Can the way you breathe affect weight loss? If you answered yes, you are correct.

The science of breathing

Several studies have shown that certain patterns of breathing can have positive health benefits including decreased anxiety, improved attention levels and sleep quality. And as a bonus, proper breathing has the potential to burn fat.

In his book The Oxygen Advantage, author Patrick McKeown explains this concept in a very simple manner. When you breathe correctly through your nose, you use more oxygen. Oxygen helps burn fat.

Mouth breathers tend to breath more shallowly, taking in too much air. They are, in effect, hyperventilating. This negatively affects the carbon dioxide (CO2) level in your system, driving it too low.

The CO2 level helps to control oxygen consumption by releasing the oxygen from the hemoglobin in your blood. If the CO2 is too low, no matter how much air you breathe, you are not maximizing the use of oxygen.

When you breathe through your nose you tend to slow down your breathing rate. In other words, if you want to burn more fat and maximize weight loss, breathe through your nose.

Breathe for fitness

This is also true during exercise. The CO2 level in our system triggers the urge to breathe. When we exercise, CO2 levels go up. Your brain senses this and wants to bring the level down by making you breathe more air.

Opening your mouth and gasping for air doesn’t increase oxygen consumption. For that, you need a good gas exchange through having an optimal ratio of O2 and CO2 – which is achieved through nose breathing.

Practise nose breathing at rest and when exercising. You will reap the rewards, and burn more fat.

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