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How to Breathe for Every Type of Exercise– Running

Nailing the right running form, tempo, and strategy can be challenging enough, but a runner’s work doesn’t end there. Huffing and puffing your way around the track won’t get you to the finish line. In fact, studies show that improper breathing technique can impair speed and performance .

How to do it right:

While there’s no golden rule, many runners find it most comfortable to take one breath for every two foot strikes. This means taking two steps (one left, one right) while breathing in and two steps while breathing out—also known as the 2:2 rhythm . Because the diaphragm and surrounding organs are all subject to the forces of gravity, synchronizing the breath to running cadence will keep the organs from putting unnecessary pressure on the diaphragm, which can impede breathing (and make running more uncomfortable than it needs to be).

The nose vs. mouth debate:

While there have been some studies comparing nasal and oral breathing during exercise, most have used small sample sizes with somewhat inconclusive results . My advice is to breathe via the mouth during exercise, as this is the route of least resistance. Breathing through the nose during exercise just makes it needlessly hard.

On the flip side, some experts say that nose breathing has its own benefits, including increased CO2 saturation in the blood, which creates a more calming effect. Breathing in through the nose can also help warm the air entering the lungs (cold weather workouts, we’re looking at you!) and might minimize allergen intake. Test the airways, and see what feels right for you and your lungs.