Can breathing affect weight? What about your posture, health, immune system, or emotions?

Let’s find out. Ready. Take a breath.
• Did you do it, can you breathe right?
• Did you breathe from your chest or diaphragm?
• Did you breathe in and out from your nose or mouth?

Why is breathing correctly so important?

In the grand scheme of things, let’s think of how many meals you eat a day (3-6 meals hopefully) that impact your body for 72 hours each meal, which is why I say what you eat if far more important than some stupid ritualized walk on the boardwalk or run on the treadmill. Then let’s look at how many workouts you do in a day (0,1,2) which each workout may impact your body for 1-4 hours after your workout depending on how your train, and up to 38 hours for elite conditioned and trained athletes. So if you are eating at least 21 meals a week and working out 2-3 times a week, no workout will ever be able to clean up the crap you put in your mouth just to maintain your weight, let alone lose any substantial weight.

Now let’s figure out how not breathing correctly fits into the equation. Breathing Trump’s your food and excise because awake or asleep we breathe an average of 12 times a minute, and in 24 hours we breathe in and breathe out more than 800 liters (282 cu ft) of air. During heavy physical exercise, your breathing rate will increase considerably: up to 80 breathes/minute. In a given day, we can take anywhere from 10,000 to 25,000 breaths and the way you breath either from your mouth or nose, from your diaphragm or chest is telling your endocrine system (hormonal system) you are calm or stressed, your metabolism to burn stored energy from fat or conserve energy into your fat cells, and breathing even effects how well your immune system and digestive systems work. No one really thinks about how their breathing can be sending the wrong message to your body’s autonomic nervous system, thus destroying your health, wellness, and vitality. Not to mention increasing your likelihood that you are not losing weight and gaining weight each year.

First things first
Some of you have me heard me explain Paul Chek’s 6 foundations of health which are pretty simple concepts and rooted from our physiology:
1. Thoughts - we have 60-100,000 thoughts a day (What do you think about most? Good stuff or bad?)
2. Breathing- we breathe 10,000-25,000 breathes a day (How are you breathing? How are you practicing proper breathing?),
3. Water – near every chemical reaction in your body uses or produces water, you brain performance decreases by 20% if you are only 3% dehydrated (Did you drink ½ your bodyweight in ounces or high quality water today or is your blood like acidic molasses?)
4. Food-you eat 3-6 times a day and it can inflame your small intestine, clog your liver, and stress out your pancreas for up to 72 hours after each meal (You are what you eat, do you want your eyes to be made of organic carrots or everything bagels ),
5. Sleep-we were designed to fall asleep between 9-10:30 pm so your body has 4 hours to recover your body, rebuild your immune system and 4 hours for mental recovery (Losing your memory, feeling tired? Still sore from working out 2 days ago? Sleep 8 hours every night!)
6. Exercise-cardiovascular exercise is catabolic or tissue destroying, so it is a stress to the body. If you are stressed, overweight, or tired do you really think you should be destroying your metabolism or rebuilding it? Rebuild your hormones and muscle through ‘working in’ exercises like meditation, yoga, tai chi, or qigong and lift weights 1-4 times a week (Is your work out right for your needs? Is your workout strategy retro? Get with the times, do you still have a computer from the 80’s ditch the workout strategy from the 80’s!)

From what I see day in and day out many people prioritize getting to gym and not de-stressing, not using proper breathing to de-stress, and not eating even close to what is right for them, but they run 3 miles on the treadmill, eat whatever crap they hear about that they can use as a short cut for eating right, and never just slow down for a second to look at where that is taking them. So taking a phrase from Tony Robbins, “Most people major in minor things.” I am going to describe, in-depth, the importance of a ‘major thing,’ which is breathing correctly and hopefully you will learn to open up your mind to the science behind what you are doing to your body.

Breathe in…Breathe out…Repeat

In the simplest terms, breathing makes our lungs pull oxygen from the air we breathe and attach the oxygen to hemoglobin molecules in our red blood cells (RBCs) that are pumped by our heart to all of our bodily cells via the arteries and capillaries. RBCs line up single file in capillaries to deliver the single most important nutrient, oxygen, to every organ and cell in the body making breathing pretty important (no pill or vitamin is more important than oxygen). Oxygen displaces deadly free radicals, neutralizes environmental toxins, and destroys anaerobic (depleting of oxygen) bacteria, parasites, microbes and viruses. Oxygen greatly enhances the body's absorption of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins, fatty acids and other important secondary nutrients. Oxygen enhances cognitive brain-power and improves your long and short memory. Breathing correctly and getting proper oxygen can beneficially affect the learning ability of your children. The ability to think, feel and act is all, dependent on oxygen. It also calms the mind and stabilizes the sympathetic nervous system by releases more of your parasympathetic nervous system’s hormones. Oxygen heightens concentration for test taking and alertness for sports. Breathing correctly and getting in enough oxygen while playing sports increases your VO2 max, so runners can run longer and faster. Without oxygen, brain cells die and deteriorate quickly. As we age, and oxygen deficiency increases, it takes longer to learn, and your attention span is decreased. As we become depleted in the oxygen we need to run our systems the more other system try to counter balance which eventually become exhausted and breakdown.

Did you know that only 10% of your energy actually comes from the food we eat and water we drink, whereas 90% of your energy comes from the chemistry and physics of oxygen. The atmospheric oxygen (O2) or dioxygen carries a strong positive charge (2O++) like the positive pole on a magnet, while our body’s tissues and the water hopefully comprising 75% of your body act like the negative pole of the magnet. In physics, having this polarity creates an electromagnetic energy called potential energy. So breathing correctly creates electromagnetic energy in your body that is easy to feel, measure, and create. This potential energy is “Prana” in Indian Yoga, “Chi” in Chinese Tai Chi and Qigong, “Ki” in Japanese Ninjitsu, and “Life Force Energy” in other primitive societies. Even a Hebrew writer in the book of Genesis wrote “neshemet ruach chayim,” meaning the breath of the spirit of life. Breathing properly has been known to be beneficial for thousands of years, but Western society has just come to terms that correct breathing enhances life, de-stresses the body, prevents dis-ease, and increases your daily energy.

We can only go about 3 minutes without breathing before it is deadly, a few days before dehydration can kill you, and a few weeks before you can die from starvation. This makes breathing the most important thing to do to stay alive.
Benefits of breathe and oxygen:
1. Increases energy levels
2. Increases stamina and endurance
3. Enhances the absorption of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins, fatty acids and other important secondary nutrients
4. Rapid fatigue recovery
5. Lowers resting heart rate
6. Kills infectious bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites, but does not harm the "Good" probiotic microorganisms our body needs.
7. Fights off and reduces inflammation that causes pain
8. Improves circulation of free radicals out of the body
9. Improves your recuperation through sleep
10. Strengthens the immune system
11. Heightens concentration and alertness
12. Increases fat metabolism resulting in loss of body fat
13. Calms the autonomic nervous system
14. Improves both long and short memory
15. Improves chemical imbalances in the body
16. Relieves headaches
17. Accelerates healing time for injuries
18. Lowers blood pressure
19. Relieves mental stress and anxiety
20. Allows the body to direct enough oxygen to its primary functions without having to draw on valuable reserves
21. Helps reverse premature aging
22. Relieves symptoms of PMS in women
23. Helps neutralize harmful toxins in cells, tissues and bloodstream.

The mechanics of proper breathe

Are you a Nostril or Mouth Breather? Our nose is part of our respiratory system because it contains a filtration cleaning system, heating system, and a humidifier. The pathways in our nostrils have bony element called conchae or turbinates that are highly vascularized mucus membranes so that when you inhale the hairs in your nose take out the dust and other small particles while the mucus membranes warm and humidifies the air. These mucus membranes are lined with parasympathetic nerves then when stimulated by breathing trigger release of hormones that calm, rebuild, and revenant our body. When we exhale through our noses the dust, dirt, and germs are blown out or trapped in mucous, dried out, and then can be blown or picked out (everyone does it). Exhaling through your mouth traps particulate matter like dust, dirt, germs, fungus, and pollen in your nose that festers causing infections (Netti pot or sinus rinses are great alternatives when you are not breathing correctly or know that you are around more dirt or seasonal pollens). Finally, when compare to nostril breathing, think of how delicate your lungs are and remember the last time you accidentally swallowed wrong and coughed on something you ate or drank. Now think about mouth breathing unfiltered, cold, infested with parasites air right into your lunges and you wonder why respiratory infections are worse than ever before. We forgot how to breathe correctly.

It was found in military studies that soldiers that slept with their mouths open woke with dry mouths and were twice as likely to getting a cold or other contagious disease, while nose breathers significantly reduced incidence of disease. Also, mothers in primitive tribes were found to teach their babies to breathe from their nose by continuing to close the infant’s lips and they would tilt the baby’s head down to close the oral airway while their baby sleeps to produce proper nose breathing. We in the western world teach our kids to eat with their mouths closed and now we must teach our kids to breath with their mouth closed to prevent diseases and restore balance nervous systems.

Types of breath

High breathing- is the worst because you are breathing from your collar bones and upper part of your chest that raises your diaphragm rather than lowering it, drawing the abdomen in on inhalation rather than out. As a result of reduced diaphragm pull only the upper part of your lunges fill up. The constant high breathing pattern throws your head more and more forward making it easier to mouth breath by better positioning the oral airway. This requires the most muscular energy with small oxygen return, which makes it the least efficient way to breathe. Many ’A-Type’ personalities breathe this way all day, every day because they are on the go making a big deal over minor things. Each high breathe is connected to the primitive autonomic nervous system telling your body that this is in a stressful event releasing glucocorticoid hormones like cortisol and other stress hormones. An excess of glucocorticoids is associated with elevated serum glucose levels, thinning of the skin, ecchymosis, osteoporosis, poor wound healing, increased susceptibility to infection, and obesity.

Mid-breathing – is slightly better than high breathing because your ribs are expanding from your intercostals muscles but there is still no lowered of the diaphragm cause the abdomen to bulge out. This pulls air deeper into the lunges but is not a full breath and you are still getting the stress response from lack of only nostril and diaphragmatic breathing.

Full breathing –Complete Breathe utilizes only nostril inhalation with your tongue against the roof of the mouth and an inhalation with a sequential pattern of diaphragmatic breathing, intercostal breathing, and high breathing last. The 1, 2, 3 expansion of the lungs fills the lungs and increases your electromagnetic energy, prana or chi. The tongue should be behind your front teeth in the natural resting position to complete the connection of two energetic meridian systems (the Governing in the rear of the body and the Conception in the front of the body). When you begin to inhale the electromagnetic energy or Chi flow rises in the Governing meridian near your anus, then up your spine, and finally coming over your head to the end point of the pathway at your upper palate at which point your tongue rests. When you exhale the electromagnetic energy flows through your tongue, down your neck, and linea alba (the middle line of your abs) to the anus. If you forget to have the tongue up against the roof you are spilling out your energy and this is yet another reason why mouth breathing causing lower energy levels. Normal breathing at rest is purely in and out from your nostrils with your diaphragm or belly, but a practice of building energy, distressing, and organ pumping should utilize the 1,2,3 punch of a complete breath. First you pull air down into your lungs with the abdominal breath. As the lower part of your lunges fills start the intercostal, rib breath by expanding your ribs out to sides and forward filling the middle portion of your lunges. Finally, lift your chest up and shoulders slightly to expand the upper portion of your ribs for the complete lunge-filling breath. The breath should flow fluidly in without jerky motions and should be held for a few seconds, then exhaled slowly pulling your abdomen back in. The most ideal cleansing breathes are a 2:4:1 breathe, which is your multiplier, meaning breathe in for 10 seconds (2x5), hold for 20 seconds (4x5), and breathe out 5 seconds (1x5). There are a number of practices for you to discover and learn like Ujjayi breath, Qi Gong, Meditation, Yoga, walking breath, running breath, and so on. Everyone should try a minimum of 30 complete breaths out of the ~20,000 you take each day and if you can complete 100 days in a row of the practice you have completed a Gong.

Physiological effects of breathing correctly
1. Nasal passages filter, heat, and humidify air that is drawn into all the deep lung space which is then less likely to be infected from festering bacteria, fungus, damaging particulate matter, and viruses.
2. Breathing through your nose with your diaphragm increases your oxygen intake, which decreases hypoxia, lowers your heart rate, and calms your hormonal system. This high quality blood delivered to the rest of your body from proper oxygenation of the lungs reduces free radicals being carried back through your body. Oxygen depletion weakens our immune system, which leads to viral infections, damaged cells, growths, inflamed joints, serious heart and circulatory problems, toxic buildup in blood and premature aging. Low oxygen allows damaged cells to multiply and form growths in our bodies because our cells are oxygen deficient. If the cells in our bodies are rich in oxygen, mutated cells are less able to reproduce.
3. Digestion requires proper breathing to oxygenate the blood in the renal vein for nutrient assimilation. You are only as healthy as what you can utilize from assimilation of nutrients from food.
4. Diaphragmatic expansion presses on your liver, stomach, intestines, and other organs to ‘pump’ them. Increase intestinal motility means less constipation. Know anyone that can’t poop every day?
5. Biological Oscillator Synchronization between your heart, brain, respiratory, digestive, and hormonal systems is achieved when breathing is performed in sync with your heart (EKG) and brain (EMG) waves according to Doc Childre author of the fascinating book Heartmath™. Doc found that breathing and calming thoughts affect your heart rate and thus your electromagnetic potential. Someone with consist calm state of mind and calm breathe creates such an electromagnetic field it will affect everyone’s brain waves because of the coherence of their heart’s energy field. You have all felt how some people’s energy fill a room both in a positive way or negative way.
6. Chest and mouth breathing uses weak upper body muscles in the neck, shoulders, and upper back which become chronically tense and tight altering your head posture. Diaphragmatic breathing relaxes the muscles of neck and shoulders, which will improve your posture.
7. Chest and mouth breathing is linked to your sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the flight or fight response, stress, and anxiety. A constant inverted breathing pattern tells your body that you are stressed and fatigues your adrenals. Diaphragmatic breathing is linked to your parasympathetic nervous system that relaxes your mind and body.


Brecher, Paul. Secrets of Energy Work 2006
Chek, Paul. How to Eat, Move, and Be Healthy 2004
Chidre, Doc The Heartmath Solution 2000
Ramacharaka Science of Breath 1903

Author's Bio: 

Donald D. Shrump Jr.

Donald is a partner of NJ Shore Fit, he holds a BS degree in Marine Sciences from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and has been a personal training coach for 9 years.

Donald is a coach of proper movement & exercise, optimal nutrition, and leading a holistic lifestyle. As a former high school Soccer, Basketball, and Track & Field stand out, then a scholarship NCAA Div. I Track & Field Decathlete receiving honors as Metropolitan Champion, All-Big East Conference, and All-IC4A he knows what hard work, discipline, and daily motivation can achieve.

After Donald’s college athletic career was over he became a research assistant with NOAA-Fisheries at Sandy Hook, New Jersey. Donald was active in research on various topics eco-toxicology of Hudson River fishes to nursery grounds of commercially important fish. He published and spoke on his research at international conferences and meetings. His primary focus dealt with toxins, nutrition, growth and development, which are prevalent in scientific and holistic approach of training and nutrition.

Donald is certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Recently, Donald has gained and applied his knowledge through the certification of the world fitness industry’s elite Paul Chek Institute’s Holistic Lifestyle Coach and Exercise Coach. These programs combine an intensive study of the relationship between food and lifestyle habits and the tools to recognize and create individualized eating plans to improve their client’s health and overall wellness. In addition, a CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach understands the important roles that sleep, food quality, stress reduction techniques, and exercise play in improving the health of their clients and learn practical methods that initiate valuable lifestyle changes.

Donald attends conferences and workshops on health and fitness, as well as lectures on various aspects of correct exercise, proper nutrition, and creating lasting lifestyle changes. Donald constantly provides his clientele with the latest trends in physical therapy, soft tissue work, personal development, and proper nutrition.

In his spare time, he loves to workout, cook new organic meals, travel the world with his wife, Christin, and surf when ever, where ever possible.

Donald’s Motto: “Exercise is the drug of choice” just be sure whose motive is behind it, what is prescribed is right for you, and how much is prescribed proves beneficial.