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Question about breathing while riding

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Question about breathing while riding

Old 07-24-19, 08:51 PM
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philbob57
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Question about breathing while riding

I'm 210 lbs, 5' 7", and 75 years old. I ride between 20-30 miles 2-4 times a week. When I ride, I tend to exhale quickly and breathe in quickly but shallowly. I can easily breathe deeply, so I'm not short of breath, but I feel deep breathing slows me down.

Does anyone have any data on recommended breathing technique while exercising? Is it individual, or is there data that indicates I'd have more endurance or speed if I did slower, deeper breathing?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 07-25-19, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by philbob57 View Post
I'm 210 lbs, 5' 7", and 75 years old. I ride between 20-30 miles 2-4 times a week. When I ride, I tend to exhale quickly and breathe in quickly but shallowly. I can easily breathe deeply, so I'm not short of breath, but I feel deep breathing slows me down.

Does anyone have any data on recommended breathing technique while exercising? Is it individual, or is there data that indicates I'd have more endurance or speed if I did slower, deeper breathing?

Thanks in advance.
Everyone is different so there is no set breathing method that I know of.

My main issue is just try and relax my breathing. I find that if I huff and puff (I'm 63) it tends to get me more exhausted than just trying to relax my breathing. I just try on climbs to take in a deeper breath and exhale slowly. I'm trying to slow things down a bit and just stay in a rhythm. Sort of like telling myself to calm down. For me, rapid breathing tells me either the hill is really steep and long or I am in a hurry trying to catch up when in fact I am not. Waste of energy for me and I usually see this on hills especially. I liken it to what I have seen and heard from scuba divers that talk about new divers that get excited and breath way to rapidly and use their tank up far to quickly.

So, I just try and relax my breathing a bit.

John

john
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Old 07-25-19, 08:05 AM
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https://www.welovecycling.com/wide/2...learn-cycling/

https://www.bicycling.com/training/a...r-performance/
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Old 07-25-19, 08:53 AM
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philbob57
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Thanks.
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Old 07-25-19, 06:57 PM
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Breathing serves multiple functions: to supply oxygen, to get rid of carbon dioxide (one of the end products of the breakdown of metabolic acids) and to help control heat. The problem with rapid, shallow breathing (aka panting) is that it does none of these efficiently. It takes about 250-350 cc of air just to fill the deadspace of your mouth, trachea and bronchial tree (no metabolic gas exchange happens in this space). That's about the size of a 12 oz soda can. Breathing more deeply expands the alveoli, filling them with air, facilitating the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

What many people don't realize is that air hunger (shortness of breath) during exertion is usually not because your body needs more oxygen, but because it needs to get rid of carbon dioxide. Wearing a pulse oximeter (about $15 on Amazon) while running on a treadmill will demonstrate that as you will likely be at 98-100% oxygen saturation but still sucking wind at maximum effort.

While you may be getting by with panting respiration, relaxed, deeper respiration will be more efficient at supporting your metabolic needs. This can get more difficult as we age as the rib cage becomes less flexible and the joints at the spine and sternum less mobile. Your diaphragm and intercostals are muscles too and exercising them with deeper respirations is a good thing for us OTA guys.
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Old 07-25-19, 07:38 PM
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I went back to school on my thirties. The big U. I signed up for beginning swimming to learn to swim freestyle correctly. Next semeseter was swimming laps with the same instructor. She stressed exhale. Really didn't care about inhale. Her reasoning (as a grad level exercise physiologist) was that any air we didn't inhale was blocking oxygen receptors and the the biggest concentration of receptors was at the bottom of our lungs. Not exhaling completely meant those receptors didn't see any of the air we inhaled. By contrast, if we used the entire 3/4s of the freestyle stroke to exhale, our lungs were completely empty when we got that little window to breath. Now, even if a wave hit us and we only get a 1/4 breath, we can utilize all the oxygen in the breath and furthermore, those best receptors will see it.

Thank, you, thank you, thank you. That was the best athletic advice I have ever gotten, by far! Wen I see my breathing ramp up, I remember - exhale. When I concentrate on long, complete exhales, I watch my speed kick up. And at the tops of hill, it speeds recovery.

And following Myosmith's post above - she also told us that we have no "oxygen sensors". Our bodies do not have the means to see that to need oxygen. (Off topic and grim - men who enter old steel tanks that have not had the air replaced quietly die. So do those that follow because they haven't heard a word from "Joe".) We have carbon dioxide sensors. In normal air, that works just as well. (Doesn't work in the tank because rust steals the oxygen but does not return carbon dioxide.)

Myosmith also mentions diaphragm breathing. So did my teacher. And bike related - look at young racers, then old racers. Young ones, fit, trim, flat stomachs. The old pros who are still going strong 15 years later - they all have guts. Every one of them. What's going one? Surely they don't drink that much beer. No, they spent that last 15 years learning to relax the muscles in their abdomens so they can breath deeper. In fact is isn't unusual to see them carry on in races and even for weeks in stage races with broken ribs; only possible if you have superman-like pain immunity or can diaphragm breath and not expand your rib cage.

Ben
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Old 07-26-19, 08:02 PM
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Aha! I've been puzzled by the fact that the breathing I'm conscious of (while riding) is exhaling. I just have a sense that if I get the CO2 out, the air I need will come in. Having said that, in other contexts I slow my breathing cycle down to good effect.

Deep breathing on the bike looks like a good habit to start. I'll try it out.

Thanks, all.
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Old 07-26-19, 10:21 PM
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Relax, relax, and relax. Put breathing completely out of your mind. If you are able to do that you will not able to breathe anyway except the most optimal and naturally beneficial for the workload you are doing while actually riding.

ADDENDUM: In other words don't think about it and it will happen naturally. That's all there is to it.

Last edited by BengalCat; 07-28-19 at 10:15 PM.
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Old 07-28-19, 11:34 AM
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You want to breathe as naturally as possible. If you try and control your breathing too much then you may hyperventilate or not have enough air. As other have said, just relax and try to breath naturally. If you are running out of wind then you are just pushing too hard and need to back off. Your body usually knows best. Now if you have asthma or other problems that's something different and you should check with your physician. If it's a problem with your gut getting in the way and pushing on your diaphragm, then you may need to get a relaxed fit bike so that you can sit more upright.
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