Thoughts On Breathing By FitOldDog

Hi folks,

I like to wear nose clips in the pool to reduce chlorine allergy, but they sure make me look dorky.

I like to wear nose clips in the pool to reduce chlorine allergy, but they sure make me look dorky.

The body has a number of routes for waste elimination, including the gastrointestinal and urinary tracts, integument (skin and all that external covering stuff) and the respiratory system. Most people think about breathing as a way to obtain oxygen, as during asphyxiation the lack of oxygen is really obvious. However, the exhaled air contains a number of eliminated toxins, including carbon dioxide (in large quantities), and the ‘unwanted’ volatile products of certain drugs and foodstuffs. The complex chemistry of exhaled air is now being exploited as a diagnostic tool.

Many years ago I studied Kung Fu, and the main obsession of our instructor was breathing. We would spend many hours exploring our breathing, to great effect, and one thing I learned was that our power varies with the stage of the respiratory cycle. Our Chi level is clearly stronger during exhalation than inhalation, which is one reason that martial artists make a big deal of noise (exhalation event) during intense physical activities. For the runner or cyclist this is a more subtle issue, whilst breathing is the greatest of all challenges to the beginning swimmer. So I decided to list some simple thoughts on breathing, based on my experience:

  1. Breathing is a reflex activity, and if you think about or watch it it will change unless you are a truly skilled meditator.
  2. Breathing is linked to strength, apparently via Chi, which can be exploited when opening a tight container or sprinting for the finish line.
  3. Breathing is calming.
  4. You don’t just have to breathe through your nose or mouth, you can inhale (mentally) through your eyes or armpits, believe it or not – give it a meditative try.
  5. You can voluntarily breathe into your chest or your belly; it is a matter of diaphragmatic versus thoracic (chest) involvement. In fact, you can breathe in many more directions, including towards the front of your chest or the back, and so forth. This is all part of the study of body-awareness.
  6. You can pull much more air into your lungs through ‘belly breathing,’ and if you want to know why just learn a little anatomy.
  7. Women tend to breathe high into their chest with short little breaths, whilst men tend to belly breathe, but this is not a hard and fast rule. You should be able to choose which and when, as they have different applications.
  8. Dogs like to smell your breath, and I assume this is done in order to ascertain whether you are healthy and thus a desirable companion.
  9. Garlic makes your breath smell garlicky.
  10. Breathing is more acutely critical than drinking, eating or reproducing, making it conscious activity number one when it doesn’t happen.
  11. You can hold your breath much longer than you think.
  12. We can run further than animals that run on four legs because we can uncouple breathing from running, which is a key component of the persistence hunting theory.
  13. When you breathe through your mouth, 50% of the inhaled air still comes through your nose, so you are actually oro-nasal breathing (unless you are wearing nose clips).
  14. Wearing nose clips in the pool can dramatically (oddly dramatically) reduce your symptoms of chlorine allergy.
  15. When you breathe out you excrete a bunch of water, which can be collected on a mirror to ascertain whether you are dead or alive.
  16. There is much much more, I am sure, but Chris Hauth kicked my ass today with his training program (see below), so I need to sleep. Oh! Yes! I didn’t talk about snoring, olfactory and pheromone function, sleep apnea, brain cooling in camels, the nose associated lymphoid tissue, and many other things. Enough is enough!

Breathe on!

-k @FitOldDog

Today’s workouts:

WorkoutPLAN Coach: Chris Hauth
Duration: 01:00:00
3600 – 400 wup – then 4x (8×100) – 1st set steady with 10 sec. Rest – 2nd set 5 sec. Rest but add an extra 30 sec. Rest half way through – 3rd set slow, medium, all out – 4th set pulling with 15 sec rest focus on great pull through and technique – slow your freestyle down.
Duration: 01:00:00
evening run at Z2 running HR

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.