We want to get healthier without marathon training. New York Times bestselling author of Breathing: The New Science of a Lost Art.
We’re inundated with the latest and greatest wellness tips (yes, we’ll take one Mirror and two new Bala Bands, please.) And yet, somehow, we’re still suckers for easy solves and low-level commitments. If we’re honest, we want to get healthier without, well, any marathon training. That’s what led us to the research of James Nestor, New York Times bestselling author of Breathing: The New Science of a Lost Art.
Over ten years, Nestor followed doctors and experts to understand why we breathe the way we do, its effects on our health and how to do it better. His book documents that journey. And while his findings were extensive and impressively scientific (we can’t recommend the book enough, seriously), a lot of it boils down to one easy shift: breathing slowly through our noses instead of our mouths.
Why breathe through our noses?
In Breath, Nestor documents two ten-day experiments during which he breathed exclusively through his mouth (thanks to semi-permanent nose plugs), and then exclusively through his nose (thanks to a bit of tape placed over his lips, and uh, don’t try this at home). Tracking blood pressure, hormone levels, smell, heart rate, sleep, bacterial growth and more, Nestor found that simply breathing through our noses dramatically improves physical and mental health.
Mouth breathing results
Just a few days into his mouth-breathing stint, Nestor documented a host of new maladies: spikes in his blood pressure, equating to stage 1 hypertension; a drop in heart rate variability, which signaled his body was in a constant state of stress; and decreased body temperature and mental clarity. Unfortunately, this experience isn’t his alone. About 50 percent of today’s population are habitual mouth breathers.
Nasal breathing results
Similarly, a few days of exclusive nasal breathing reversed the negative mouth-breathing effects for Nestor, and he cites hundreds of examples to support these claims. A quick nod to our nozzles: Aside from clearing, heating and moistening raw air upon inhaling, our nose triggers hormones and chemicals that lower blood pressure, regulate heart rate, ease digestion and more. Our noses also have direct access to our brain hemispheres. Breathing through the right nostril feeds blood to the left hemisphere, which facilitates logical decisions, language and computing. Breathing through the left shifts blood flow to the right hemisphere, igniting creative thought and emotions. Goodbye, brain fog.
Originally published at yahoo