Why You Should Breathe Through Your Nose During Exercise

Should you breathe through you nose when you exercise


Breathing is an important part of exercise, but people often ignore their breathing and fail to understand the importance of proper breathing techniques. During exercise, your body needs more oxygen than at rest. Your breathing rate increases to supply this oxygen. The amount of oxygen your body needs depends on the intensity of your workout.

A more intense workout requires greater oxygen delivery than a leisurely one. Ventilation is the movement of air into and out of the lungs. The air you breathe in is called inhalation, and the air you breathe out is called exhalation. Ventilation rate rises during a workout and the more intense, the greater the rise in ventilation. The ventilation rate increases markedly during an intense workout. It becomes so rapid that you can only say a few words at a time. The ventilation rate increases to supply our muscles with more oxygen.

Why Good Breathing Technique Is Important

Proper breathing helps oxygenate your blood and improve cardiovascular efficiency. Improper breathing during exercise can lead to problems such as early fatigue and even lightheadedness of dizziness.

How you breathe during a workout can also affect how your body performs during a workout. If you want to maximize your workout potential, it’s worth taking the time to learn how to breathe properly during exercise. You want to breathe in and out through your nose, not your mouth. Let’s look at some reasons why.

Breathing Through Your Nose Boost Nitric Oxide Production

Research shows nasal breathing can boost levels of nitric oxide in the body. This is important because nitric oxide is a powerful vasodilator, meaning it widens blood vessels and improves blood flow and oxygen delivery throughout your body. This can be beneficial for people with cardiovascular problems or anyone looking to improve their athletic performance. More vasodilation means more oxygen delivery.

Breathing through the nose can boost nitric oxide levels by up to five times compared to mouth breathing. Nitric oxide can be produced both in the lungs and the sinuses and is then exhaled through the nose. So, nasal breathing gives you extra nitric oxide to widen blood vessels and improve blood and oxygen delivery to your muscles.

The findings suggest that nasal breathing could be an easy and effective way to improve nitric oxide levels in the body and boost exercise performance. So, if you’re looking to get the most out of your workout, try breathing through your nose.

Nose Breathing Warms, Moistens, and Filters Air

The nose helps humidify the air you breathe by releasing water vapor into the air you breathe in. This makes breathing easier (especially in cold weather) because it keeps your lungs from drying out too much or becoming irritated by the dryness of cold winter air. It feels more comfortable to breathe humidified air too.

Plus, the nose helps filter out dust particles and germs before they enter the respiratory system where they could cause issues.  If you have allergies or asthma, breathing through your nose during exercise may reduce the symptoms you experience with asthma and allergies.

Plus, you’re less likely to catch respiratory infections if you breathe through your nose. When you breathe through your nose, the tiny hairs in your nasal passages, called cilia, filters the air. When you mouth breathe, the air bypasses these cilia, increasing your chances of inhaling bacteria and viruses. Plus, the air that comes in through your nose is better humidified, which makes it harder for viruses to gain a foothold.

Breathing Through Your Nose Slows Your Breathing Rate

When you exhale through the nose, it forces you to inhale and exhale more slowly—it’s not as easy to take deep breaths through the nose as it is to breathe through the mouth. Slower breathing rates during exercise is more efficient and can lead to less fatigue. When you breathe more slowly, you can expand your lungs more and maximize the lung’s ability to take in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. This results in less lactic acid buildup, which can lead to fatigue.

Nasal Breathing Takes Getting Used To

If you’re not accustomed to breathing through your nose, expect an adjustment period. Exercise, especially high-intensity exercise, may feel more challenging at first, especially if you’re a habitual mouth breather.

If you find yourself mouth breathing during exercise, there are a few things you can do to train yourself to breathe through your nose instead. First, make a conscious effort to close your mouth and breathe through your nose during your warm-up. Start by doing this for short periods during a workout and then slowly build from there. As you adjust, it will become easier to breathe through your nose and it will become second nature to do so.

Second, try to exhale a little harder than you inhale. This keeps your nose clear and open. Third, focus on keeping a steady rhythm and don’t hold your breath. Inhale and exhale through your nose in a steady rhythm, and you’ll find it easier to keep breathing through your nose during a workout.


The nose is a valuable tool to help you breathe during exercise. Whether you’re exercising in the gym or on the road, use it to improve your performance and stay healthy. Coupled with proper posture and a strong core, learning how to breathe can improve your performance during exercise. It will also help you avoid injuries and other health issues. So, pay attention to how you breathe! Awareness will help you improve.


  • “Nose Breathing: Benefits, How To, Exercises to Try – Healthline.” 01 Feb. 2021, https://www.healthline.com/health/nose-breathing.
  • Nasal resistance and flow resistive work of nasal breathing during exercise: effects of a nasal dilator strip. J. M. Gehring, S. R. Garlick, J. R. Wheatley, and T. C. Amisb 01 SEP 2000https://doi.org/10.1152/jappl.2000.89.3.1114.
  • Oral O. Nitric oxide and its role in exercise physiology. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2021 Sep;61(9):1208-1211. doi: 10.23736/S0022-4707.21.11640-8. Epub 2021 Jan 20. PMID: 33472351.
  • “Understanding Respiratory Rate and Exercise – National Federation of ….” 16 Mar. 2020, https://www.nfpt.com/blog/understanding-respiratory-rate-and-exercise.
  • “Mouth Breathing: Symptoms, Complications, and Treatments – Healthline.” 15 Jul. 2019, https://www.healthline.com/health/mouth-breathing.
  • “Mouth breathing can cause major health problems — ScienceDaily.” 06 Apr. 2010, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100406125714.htm.

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