Running can be super simple. Easily lace up your sneakers, make sure you’ve got your playlist uploaded and hit the pavement. Bam, that’s it!
But if you’re anything like me, you probably have a habit of overcomplicating things. Questions run rampant in my mind the second I start going: Should I be wearing different socks? Are my arms moving in a funny way? Am I moving fast enough? Am I supposed to add hills to my training? On a recent jaunt around New York City’s Central Park, a friend of mine asked me a question I — a certified run coach — didn’t have a definitive answer to: How am I supposed to breathe during this, anyway?
So, I went to the experts. “It’s a hotly debated topic,” says Dr. Lauren Borowski, sports medicine orthopedic surgeon at NYU Langone Health. “The right way to breathe for one person might be different for the next. Breathing is about getting oxygen in so that it can be distributed to the muscle tissues throughout the body. For some people it might be more efficient and effective to breathe through their mouth than their nose.”
Whether you’re a nose-breather or a mouth-breather, here are the top tips to get the most out of your oxygen while you’re being active:
FIND A RHYTHM
Mid- to long-distance runners should be aiming to breathe one breath every two steps per foot, says Rich Velazquez, coach and COO at Mile High Run Club. “Our bodies move and breathe to a beat and the goal is to get the two aligned, he says.
So, breathe in for two steps, exhale for two steps. Soon enough, it’ll become second nature, says Velazquez.
WHEN IN DOUBT, GO NOSE
“Breathing in through the nose is certainly the best way to humidify and warm the air as it enters the lungs,” says Borowski. Granted if you’re stuffed up and logging miles anyway, it’s OK to swap to the mouth-breathing route. “You’re still getting the air you need regardless.”
BE CAUTIOUS IF YOU HAVE ASTHMA
Air quality is a real thing you should consider when you’re exercising especially if you have asthma. “There are many different apps available that alert people to the air-quality conditions on a day-to-day basis in your area,” says Borowski. For people with asthma or other lung conditions, breathing becomes more difficult when air quality is lacking. Translation? Take it inside and hit the treadmill, instead.
YOUR BREATH SHOULD FEEL RIGHT
At the end of the day, you’re the person who needs to feel comfortable with how you’re oxygenating your body during exercise. Stay calm and remember: Everyone’s different. Suggestions are just that — suggestions. Now take a breath and get to work.