A group of runners breathing through their nose while exercising

Originally written August 18, 2017

Many people love exercising, whether it’s to lose weight, build muscle, or just get out and be active. But for all the things we do to improve our workouts, there’s one thing everyone can do to perform better and feel better while doing it: breathe through our noses.

In This Article...

  1. What is nasal breathing?
  2. What are the benefits of nasal breathing?
  3. How does nasal breathing affect exercise?
  4. What can limit your nasal breathing?

What is nasal breathing?

In its simplest terms, nasal breathing allows the body to maintain more carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 levels must be balanced with oxygen, but breathing through the mouth is commonly too fast and too shallow. That means you lose too much CO2, which results in the narrowing of blood vessels, airways, and nasal passages.

What are the benefits of nasal breathing?

Nasal breathing has a number of benefits. The nose filters out allergens and other particles that could irritate the throat or lungs. Air exhaled through the nose also reabsorbs moisture more efficiently than mouth breathing. This reduces the chance of dehydration. Mouth breathing, meanwhile, can dry out the mouth and throat, which can lead to irritation.

Shallow mouth breathing can also activate the fight-or-flight response, which can raise your stress levels. On the other hand, nasal breathing forces you to slow down and relaxes you, which is ideal when you’re doing something meant to be calming like yoga. Nasal breathing also helps with your memory, concentration, and coherence, which also helps calm your brain.

How does nasal breathing affect exercise?

Nasal breathing can have a considerable impact on your exercise results. It can lower your blood pressure, better regulate the amount of air you breathe, and improve your lung volume. While exercising, nasal breathing helps you optimize your performance, endurance, post-exercise energy levels, and ability to metabolize fat. You also exert yourself less than if you breathe through your mouth.

And when you’re done exercising, nasal breathing will help you recover faster.

What can limit your nasal breathing?

That said, you can only breathe as much as your nose allows, and many nasal conditions can affect your ability to take in air. These can range from allergies to a deviated septum to turbinates and other obstructions. 

Dr. Isaac Dingle, a CEENTA ENT physician who practices out of our Pineville location, is confident that you'll find the relief you need at our offices. “There is no reason to let a stuffy nose impair your quality of life and ability to perform at your highest level. Most cases of adult and pediatric nasal obstruction can be easily treated with medications or a quick outpatient surgery. At CEENTA we are confident we can help you breath better whether you suffer from allergies, a deviated septum, large turbinates or adenoids, weak nasal cartilages, or a host of causes.”

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. If you need an appointment with an ENT physician in one of our North or South Carolina locations, you can schedule an appointment online, through your myCEENTAchart account, or by calling 704-295-3300.


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