How to Level Up Your Workout with Nasal Breathing
Whether you play on a team or are just trying beat your own best time, you're an athlete. And you do a lot to optimize your fitness: tracking your activity, your heart rate and prepping your pre- and post-workouts. But you could be undoing all that effort if you default to mouth breathing when you move and train. Find out how nasal breathing can boost your athletic performance and get the most bang for your buck when it comes to training.
How Nasal Breathing Works
Breathing is more than inhale, exhale: it matters how air enters your body. You see, your mouth is much better at eating than breathing. When you breathe through your nose it actually uses different pathways to get that necessary oxygen into your blood. Nose breathing increases the amount of oxygen you get to your active tissues.
It follows that when you're being active, your body needs more oxygen. But the way you'll usually end up getting it is by hyperventilating - overcompensating with your mouth. Moreover, oxygen isn't the only thing in the air we breathe. Nasal breathing increases nitric oxide in the body (this is good, by the way).
It Makes You More Efficient
Most of us can't workout all day, nor do we really want to. Nasal breathing adds a certain degree of difficulty to your workout without adding volume. This is especially useful if you're doing HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) or trying to fit a short workout into a busy day. You have limited time to get your activity in while making the same impact.
For many of us, we workout just to make sure we're moving during the day. But if you have a particular fitness goal, like a race or marathon, you'll likely be upping the difficulty slightly with each workout. By implementing nasal breathing - without changing anything else about your routine - you're actually getting stronger by increasing your aerobic capacity.
It Gets You in the Zone
There's a reason the advice you always get before something big, like a test or presentation, is to breathe. "In through your nose, out through your mouth"... sound familiar? That's because nasal breathing calms you and improves your focus. But if you've ever been in a yoga class, you know it's easier said than done. Any attempts to control your breath go right out the window once you switch positions or the intensity picks up. This is where practice comes into play.
A lot of what we do every day is autonomous. Like blinking, driving, and breathing - all things we do without really thinking. In fact, if we stopped and thought about how we do it, we'd find it hard to explain. These are times when your sympathetic nervous system is in control. It's helpful when trying to complete regular tasks but a bit inconvenient when it triggers fight or flight, the instinct that makes you freeze up in moments of stress or panic. And when you're pushing yourself with exercise you end up forcing your breaths. Because your body doesn't know the difference between stress and ordinary exertion.
It's Designed for Athletes
If you're trying to get good at something, look to the pros. Many athletes swear by nasal breathing for performance and endurance. It's becoming common practice to wear breathing aids at the gym. You also see something now called elevation masks actually meant to do the opposite. Mimicking the feeling of being at a higher altitude, it limits your oxygen intake so your body will learn to overcompensate.
Pro surfer Laird Hamilton, founder of XPT Performance Breathing, argues that training is about conditioning yourself to increase your aerobic capacity. This is contrary to the assumption many athletes have that they only succeeded if they feel spent after their workout.
It Helps With Recovery
Your workout doesn't stop when you hit pause on your playlist. Before you leave the parking lot your body already starts the process of recovery. This time is essential for preventing injury and getting the most out of your workout. Another plus of nasal breathing during your workouts is it promotes recovery by tapping into your relaxation instincts.
We mentioned earlier about the dual nervous system. When you breathe through your nose, you're using your parasympathetic nervous system. Instead of fight or flight, you body goes into "rest and digest." This is a restorative state where your brain senses no danger, so it can prioritize other essential survival functions.
How to Add Nasal Breathing to Your Workout
There's only one breathing aid out there that you can wear around the clock, and that's HALE. It's a comfortable and discreet nasal breathing aid worn entirely inside the nose. No visible components or aesthetic change, but a whole lot more airflow.
You can try HALE by signing up to our beta testing program - or like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and Twitter at @wear_hale, and sign up to our mailing list for exclusive offers and updates.