This is part two in a series. These books have all had a positive influence on my own training, health, or mental well-being, and I highly recommend them. The books are in no order. For full disclosure’s sake, know that if you click on the linked image to purchase the book, it will give me a small kick back. I am going to do two books every Monday between now and Christmas, so stay tuned.
The Oxygen Advantage: The Simple, Scientifically Proven Breathing Techniques for a Healthier, Slimmer, Faster, and Fitter You
by Patrick McKeown
This is an interesting read, and I heard about it first on the WHOOP podcast, but it has since been referenced many times elsewhere. McKeown is a breathing guru who has been instructing people how to breathe properly for years after being trained by famed Russian doctor, Konstantin Buteyko.
The book argues that if we assess and improve our breathing, we can improve our lives. This improvement has a lot of health benefits claimed, but I was primarily interested in the improvement of my cycling.
I have noticed over the last year, that as I increased the time spent meditating and breathing intentionally, my cycling has changed. I no longer had bouts of quick breathing and shortness of breath. I felt more in tune with the strain. I felt more at ease. I knew that working on breathing was having an effect, so I was curious about McKeown and his approach after hearing it mentioned.
The approach is rather simple, breathe through your nose and “breathe light to breathe right.” McKeown goes on to explain all the benefits that these two steps and a few others have. For one, your nose humidifies oxygen and that allows more to get into the lungs. By breathing lightly, you also hold on to carbon dioxide which helps oxygen gets used by the body more efficiently. When we “over breathe,” we exhale too much carbon dioxide, and that has negative effects. He also goes on to explain how we can assess and track our breathing using the BOLT test, and in later chapters shows how we can even mimic altitude training from limiting our breathing using his method.
There is so much to learn from this book that I think you just need to open it up and look. The research is easy to digest, and even if this just gets you to try nasal breathing more, it will have a big effect on your calmness and performance. Check out some of McKeown’s recent podcast and video appearances to get a little sample. I highly recommend that you check the book out though. It is jam packed with good advice.