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Changing How You Breathe Could Change Your Life

Duration: 47:22
You’ve been breathing wrong your whole life. That’s the message journalist and outdoor athlete James Nestor delivers in his new bestseller Breath, which explains how the human species has lost the ability to breathe properly and why this is so bad for our health in all kinds of ways. But his reporti
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You’ve been breathing wrong your whole life. That’s the message journalist and outdoor athlete James Nestor delivers in his new bestseller Breath, which explains how the human species has lost the ability to breathe properly and why this is so bad for our health in all kinds of ways. But his reporting also shows that with minor adjustments in how we inhale and exhale, we can dramatically improve on everything from the quality of our sleep to our athletic performance to our posture. Nestor, whose interest in breathing began when he wrote a feature for Outside on the sport of freediving, talks with editor Christopher Keyes about his years-long investigation into the history and science of human breathing, and his own journey to becoming a better breather.



This episode of the Outside Podcast is brought to you by Feetures, socks that help you perform at your best. See for yourself why Feetures has become the number one running sock in America. Outside Podcast listeners receive $10 off your first pair. Go to feetures.com and enter the code "outside" at checkout.
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we apply that other than I guess, just starting to build up and trying to breathe through our noses when we're exercising. So researchers have been looking at this for for decades. Dr. John, do you er was doing studies in this in the in the eighties and nineties. So it was Phil Matthew Tone, And what do Yard would do was he would put a cyclist on a stationary bike and record heart rate and all these other measurements, and he would have the cyclist breathe through the mouth and perform a task pumping out 200. I think it was 200 watts slowly, incrementally working up to about 200 watts. And then he would have them nasal breathe. And and he showed that when they were nasal breathing, you know, they were breathing about 14 times a minute, and when they were mouth breathing, they could be breathing 60 60 70 times a minute. And if you look at your heart rate when your nasal breathing versus mouth breathing you nasal breathing, your heart rate is going to go way down. Okay, so when you're working out and you're working out at the same level with a lower heart rate and lower exertion. You then have that buffer to push even harder, right to go further and faster, using the same amount of energy. And that's what they've they've shown. I just talked to do. You are a couple of weeks ago and he's still doing these studies and the people who have who have done this, who have switched to nasal breathing. I mean, you can you can hear them singing the praises. Sanya Richards Ross says she was the top sprinter for for 10 years. Uh, obligate nasal breather. Check out the pictures of her just kicking everyone's ass and in almost every race. So there's not a lot of controversy about it. The people that have studied it No, it works. But so few people want to do this because exactly hard at the beginning, I mean, that's that's the reality. It's really hard. Like as Westerners were like, Okay, you know, I got this new. I'm taking this this new booster. I'm gonna eat this new goo, and it's going to give me this amount of glucose. I'm gonna run faster. Cool. Instant results, the adaption to nasal breathing. If you've been mouth breathing for decades can take weeks or months to really get through it. But as do Yard said, he's like once you get through it, it is such a dramatic difference, your amount, your ability to recover your performance, your perceived exertion I mean, on and on and on. And these are measurable changes that happen. Yeah, well, I would love some advice on that, because I'm in. Uh, I'm on day three of my own experiment with this and the first run. I mean, I just felt like I was suffocating, and there were a couple of times where I just I had to take a gulp of there. So you're telling me, although it's good to hear sort of the parameters of of weeks or months, But you do get to a point where it feels less constrictive, and that's what you experienced. So absolutely, it's what I've experienced, and I have cat scans to prove it, you know, a year before year after. So the first thing to do is is yeah, is to acknowledge that it's going to be a pretty rough ride for a little while, but But don't give up a second thing to do is to cheat a little bit, and by that I mean use breathe right strips. These are strips that go right on the bridge of your nose that pull your nostrils up to allow you to get more air in through your nose to allow you to be like our ancestors. So crazy. We have technology that now allows us to be the way that we were supposed to have been before we screwed ourselves up. But there's also these these cool little things that I've I've just been trying out called called Mute, and they go inside of the nostrils. So so they're less obvious, and they also can dilate the nostrils by something like 20 or 30%. So I think that those are great tools little little crutches to use the training wheels to get you to adapt more easily. And after that, you know that need to breathe that you're experiencing is not a lack of oxygen. That's an increase of co two, and by increasing your C 02 you can increase E P o. You can increase circulation. You can decrease your heart rate, so there's a lot of benefits to that It's just not pleasant. No one wants to feel that, but it does get easier as your tolerance goes up.
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