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Exercise & Nose Breathing

15 Benefits of Nose Breathing While Exercising

The Lungs

  • Nose breathing drives oxygen more efficiently into the lower lobes of the lungs rather than staying in the upper lobes, as with mouth breathing. With nose breathing, all five lobes of the lungs are used to breathe rather than just the upper two. The lower lobes of the lungs have more parasympathetic, calming and repairing nerve receptors, which are activated during nose breathing. The upper lobes have more sympathetic (fight or flight) stress receptors that are activated during mouth breathing while exercising.
  • The lower lobes of the lungs are also gravity fed, and thus have more blood. Therefore, they have the ability to extract more waste (CO2) out of the body. Why do we huff and puff during exercise? Because we are not removing the CO2 as efficiently as we could be. Nose breathing maximises this action.
  • Breathing into the lower lobes of the lungs massages and exercises the diaphragm at the base of the lungs, making it more efficient for deep breathers in the long run.
  • Freeing the diaphragm to contract and relax fully massages the stomach situated just below the diaphragm, allowing for more efficient stomach function which can help in avoiding heartburn and hiatal hernia-like symptoms.
  • Nose breathing (nasal breathing) forces the entire rib cage to breathe. Deep nose breathing engages all 12 ribs to act as levers that massage the heart and lungs, rather than acting as a cage that squeezes the heart and lungs 26,000 breaths a day.


  • Nose breathing and full rib cage activation acts as a pump to pull lymph fluid from the lower parts of the body up into the chest cavity and to the heart supporting healthy and active lymphatic flow.
  • Has been shown to increase the production of Nitric Oxide. Nitric oxide is an important cellular stimulating molecule in the body which has a hand in many favorable physiological processes, including expanding blood vessels, increasing blood flow, and protecting the organs from damage. Nitric oxide has been coined the Noble Prize-winning panacea molecule. Nitric oxide was not shown to be produced during mouth breathing exercise.
  • Nose breathing lowered heart rate and breath rate compared to mouth breathing exercise.
  • Nose breathing during exercise increased alpha brain wave activity compared to mouth breathing exercise. Alpha brain waves are produced during relaxation or meditative states. Mouth breathing exercise produces a significant amount of beta brain waves that are associated with a stress response.
  • Nose breathing while exercising increased brain wave coherence compared to mouth breathing during exercise. Brain wave coherence is associated with calm and organised brain function.
  • Nose breathing exercise was perceived as less exertion (it was easier) as compared to mouth breathing exercise, according to the Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion
  • Nose breathing exercise demonstrated shorter recovery times and better endurance than mouth breathing exercise.
  • Nose breathing exercise reported 50% less fight or flight stress and 50% more calm parasympathetic activation when compared to mouth breathing exercise.

Nose Breathing v’s Mouth Breathing during Exercise Research & Article by Dr John Douillard, DC, CAP, May 6, 2014. Three Rivers Press, New York.

Progressive Breathing offers online diaphragmatic nasal breathing guidance, learn more about them.

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