Hold your breath for long enough and you will realize that your body needs oxygen every second of every day to stay alive. Every living cell and every organ in your body needs oxygen. This includes your brain, liver, muscles, nerves, skin, and heart.
Oxygen is needed on a cellular level
Many people say that people were healthier in ancient times because the air was cleaner. Pollution in the air is one of the biggest causes of increased cellular oxidation – along with unhealthy Western diets that contain a lot of processed food and unhealthy habits like smoking and alcohol consumption. Cellular oxidation is what causes the wear and tear on our cells and causes us to age. Oxidation, for example, is what causes the metal to rust. Antioxidants, commonly found in raw food sources like fruit and vegetables, counter the oxidative effects of harmful chemicals that our bodies are subjected to and help to fight against age-related diseases for this very reason.
Reduce negative exposure while increasing positive exposure
Staying healthy and helping your body to work at its best all the time requires two primary factors: reducing exposure to negative substances (like diet, pollution, stress, alcohol and smoke) while increasing exposure to positive or healthy things (like exercise, water, oxygen and micronutrients). The more oxygen your body has, the better it is able to eliminate negative substances and start necessary biological processes like energy metabolism.
Oxygen’s effects on energy levels and fat metabolism
Your body needs oxygen to create energy. This energy is needed for more than simply moving your body around during exercise. It needs energy for food to be turned into nutrients, for the brain to operate normally and regulate all of the body’s chemical balances, for the heart to beat, and for cells to perform all of their respective functions.
Your body primarily runs off two energy sources: sugar and fat. Both of these energy systems require oxygen. In the case of sugar, the mitochondria in cells combine sugar with oxygen to release energy. In the case of fat, oxygen is used to open a fat molecule (or lipid) to extract and use the energy.
Where does the fat go after it has been used?
Have you ever wondered what happens to the fat when you lose weight? Nothing can simply disappear. Did you think that you may be pee it out? Or that physical fat (matter) gets less as it is turned into energy (non-matter)? Physical fat cannot be turned into a movement. Fat is a physical matter, while movement is energy. You can’t turn matter into energy, or vice versa. You can only turn one form of matter into another form of matter. This process will either store or release energy. In the same way, energy cannot increase or decrease – it simply transforms from one form into another.
So what happens to the fat when you lose weight? When the body uses fat for energy, it is broken down into two substances: water and carbon dioxide. This is the same way that fire turns wood into ash or that the gas in your car doesn’t disappear – it gets turned to fumes that are released via the exhaust. The body uses oxygen to convert fat into carbon dioxide and water.
Low energy levels cause the body to take shortcuts
The more you study the human body, the more fascinated you will be with the fact that the body has a plan for almost anything that happens. If it is cold, it knows to shiver and create heat. When it is hungry, it knows to lower insulin to save on sugar. When it is tired, it knows to enter into rest. Our bodies are constantly living in response to the stimuli that we put them through. Your body also has a plan for low energy levels too: decrease energy creation even more (by lowering metabolism) and increase caloric intake (by increasing appetite). This is why a poor night’s sleep can lead to cravings for high-fat foods.
Your body will also lower energy expenditure in other ways. It takes more energy to extract energy from fat cells (since there are 9 calories per gram of fat) then what it does from sugar (there are only 4 calories in a gram of sugar). This leads the body to crave sugar, use it as a quick source of energy and store as much as possible for later whenever your energy levels drop.
Low oxygen levels are one of the most common reasons why your body has less energy than it should. Increased oxygen levels are one of the main reasons why exercise has such a great energy-boosting effect. Can you simply breathe more to increase your energy levels? Yes!
We breathe wrong all the time
The next time that you have the chance, take a look at how an animal or baby breathes when they sleep. You will see that they breathe from the pits of their stomach – the gut is the part of their bodies that rise and fall with each breath. Now examine the way that adult humans breathe naturally. You will see that their chests rise and fall with each breath. This leads to shorter, shallower breathes. When you breath shallow breaths by mobilizing the chest, every breathe fills only part of the lungs. This decreases the amount of surface area in the lungs that can take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide, reduces the amount of air taken in and lowers the amount of air exhaled. Shorter breaths lead to lower blood oxygen levels.
Breathing deeply increases oxygen uptake
My acting coach taught me how to breathe from my gut. This helped me to hold more air in my lungs so that I could recite more lines or sing for longer before needing to take another breath. Deep breathing is a popular technique for singers because of this. You can hold your breath for longer when you take a deep breath because more air enters your lungs. You are using a greater capacity of your lungs. Breathing deeply, regularly, will also increase lung capacity over time as your lungs learn to take in more air with each breath. This increases oxygen uptake with each breath and improves blood oxygen levels in the long haul.
Other ways to increase blood oxygen levels
- Regular exercise increases the body’s ability to absorb and use oxygen efficiently. This will increase the amount of oxygen available for the muscles, joints, nerves, skin and other tissues.
- Find the correct balance between activity and rest. While physical activity stimulates greater oxygen uptake, rest is needed to respond to that stimulus.
- Drinking enough water during your workout will not only increase performance but help the body to flush out toxins in the blood that may inhibit oxygen usage. These include lactic acid and carbon dioxide.
- Do warm-up sets before exercise to raise oxygen levels. This is another easy way to increase performance.
- Using the steam room regularly can increase blood vessel size. This will help with better delivery of nutrients like oxygen, protein, and energy.
By breathing deeply, you can increase the amount of oxygen that you get with every breath. Practicing this regularly will increase the depth of your breath naturally over time as your body learns to breathe in this new way. This will help to increase energy levels, encourage the body to use energy more efficiently, reduce the onset of age-related diseases and help every organ in your body to function at its best. Taking a few minutes every day to improve your breathing will yield great results in the weeks to come.
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