The Nose Breather’s Dilemma: Do You Need to Breathe Through Your Mouth During Strenuous Exercise?

The New York Times Magazine article I told you about last post advised “keeping your lips closed unless you’re talking, eating or doing strenuous exercise.” Actually, most people would probably prefer we kept the lips closed while eating… but what about “strenuous exercise”?

First off, I think “strenuous exercise” can cross the actual exercise line. We’ve all heard of runners having heart attacks and weight lifters popping brain arteries. That’s not exercise; it’s torture.

But as far as running at a pace you can maintain without being trailed by a paramedic or weights you can lift without blood squirting out your ears… No, in my experience, mouth breathing is neither necessary or helpful. If anything the dilating power of nasal breathing protects you from the type of blood vessel constriction that lands you in an ambulance blaring down the street.

I run 7.5km (4.5 miles) six days a week with the mouth shut the whole time. Same goes for chin-ups, handstand push-ups and single-leg squats. Even at top speed, I’ve read, not all the oxygen comes even close to being used up.

The lungs are big.

Thinking outside the T1D Matrix,
– John C. A. Manley

P.S. Nasal breathing during exercise even appears to stop blood sugar spikes in the gym as you can see here: Close Your Mouth, Lift Some Weights and Lower Your Blood Sugar


About the Author: John C. A. Manley researches and writes about alternative treatments for type-1 diabetes and its many complications. His wife, Nicole, of 15 years has had type-1 diabetes for four decades. Together they have lowered her HgbA1c below 5.5%, regained thyroid function, increased kidney function and reversed gastroparesis. Read more about their journey out of the T1D matrix or subscribe to their Diabetic Dharma blog..