I admit I didn’t think much about breathing until recently when my son strongly recommended a book for the family. After some due diligence in listening to the author interviewed on a Joe Rogan podcast I was convinced I needed to read the book myself and quietly slid the stack of real and virtual books aside to read Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art before anything else. I’m well into it now, and can tell its one of those transformative books that influences the way you think about many things. And so it was that I hiked two 4000 footers yesterday with these thoughts in my head:
“In a single breath, more molecules of air will pass through your nose than all the grains of sand on all the world’s beaches—trillions and trillions of them.”
“Nasal breathing alone can boost nitric oxide sixfold, which is one of the reasons we can absorb about 18 percent more oxygen than by just breathing through the mouth.”
“The greatest indicator of life span wasn’t genetics, diet, or the amount of daily exercise, as many had suspected. It was lung capacity.”
“Moderate exercise like walking or cycling has been shown to boost lung size by up to 15 percent.”
“The most important aspect of breathing wasn’t just to take in air through the nose. Inhaling was the easy part. The key to breathing, lung expansion, and the long life that came with it was on the other end of respiration. It was in the transformative power of a full exhalation.”
With apologies to author James Nestor, I wasn’t going to fully commit to nasal breathing hiking up Crawford Path yesterday. I gave it a try a few times but didn’t feel like I was getting enough air. Something to work on for sure, but I opted for the more familiar mouth breathing for the steepest stretches of the path and reserved the nasal breathing for the descent from Mount Eisenhower. I can tell I’ve got my work cut out for me, but anything worthwhile deserves putting the work in. What’s more worthwhile than breathing?