If you are a runner, swimmer, or cyclist you probably already know that oxygen is the key to improving your athletic performance. The exciting reality about this key is that it is not specific to “performing athletes” nor any one sport, but rather applicable to all people and all sports making oxygen the master key to naturally enhancing bodily function. Starting from the beginning, oxygen is a necessity for almost all living organisms to exist - meaning our body needs oxygen to help facilitate the creation of energy that allows us to function in this world. Every breath you take renews and replenishes your body’s energy stores. These energy stores enable your body with the ability to power essential organs like your brain (the organ that consumes the largest amount of energy in the body), heart, lungs, and metabolic processes from which your body heals from stress and damage.
The average person will take over 672.5 million breaths over the course of an 80 year lifespan. This breath count only goes up if you are active, workout, train for a sport, &/or play a sport. As a result of the sheer quantity of breaths potentially taken in a lifetime, our body naturally turns this process into a predominantly subconscious action allowing you to breathe without having to think about it. This adaptation brings with it the benefit that you will not forget to breathe and the challenge of an inherent degeneration of control over your body’s breathing process. Uniquely, we have the ability to transition between conscious and subconscious breathing! This has the potential to result in varying levels of diaphragmatic competency and strength. Your diaphragm is a group of musculature and connective tissues that collectively work to move air and thus, oxygen and carbon dioxide, in and out (respectively) of the body via the lungs. The healthier you are individually, the more effective and efficient your body is likely to be at the oxygen exchange process. Stated another way, the better your diaphragm function, the healthier functioning your body is likely to be.
Optimal oxygen exchange has a bevy of benefits to your health including:
Enhanced Blood Pressure Regulation
Improved Organ Function
Improved Mental Focus & Clarity
Enhanced Bodily Function & Performance
In order to fully experience the benefits of a healthy oxygen exchange I suggest diaphragmatic training to strengthen and condition the musculature responsible for expanding and depressing the lungs. The difference between an automatic and manual car is a preferred analogy of mine to explain the difference between conscious and subconscious breathing. One form of breathing brings less oxygen in and moves less carbon dioxide out with the benefit of not having to think about it (automatic), whereas the other form of breathing maximizes oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide removal with the challenge of having to consciously activate and sustain the breathing process (manual).
In summation, improving your breathing strength & endurance through breath training is likely to have a positive impact on your health and performance.
~ Coach Tae