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I was going to call this challenge Artemis Prime Breathes, but I decided to jazz it up a little. But this challenge is all about breathing. Last month I decided I wanted to start running again, and then promptly decided to push it off until fall so I wasn't trying to condition myself during this ridiculous heat wave we've been stuck in. So in lieu of actually running, I dove into YouTube and discovered Nate Helming of The Run Experience. He's got a bunch of good videos, but the one that inspired this challenge was his video on the breath hold test, or Body Oxygen Level Test, or BOLT. It's based on Patrick McKeown's The Oxygen Advantage, and basically has to do with the Bohr Effect and increasing your body's tolerance of carbon dioxide in order to use oxygen more efficiently.  Video spoilered if you're interested.

 

Spoiler

 

 

Science was never my best subject, but it seemed sound to me, so I decided to check out McKeown's book. By happy chance, it arrived this week, so this challenge I'm going to read the book, practice the breathing exercises, and see if I can increase my BOLT score. The absolute ideal score is 40 seconds. Average score for reasonably fit adults is 20 seconds. I tested this morning and hit 20 seconds, but it's not supposed to be how long you can hold your breath, it's how long you can go before your body really starts to crave air, and I think I pushed it a few seconds longer than I should have, so I'm probably actually in the 16-17 second range. I'll retest every week of this challenge and see what I'm at by the end.

 

Challenge Goals:

  • Read The Oxygen Advantage: I've read the first 2 chapters so far, and mostly it's the same material that's covered in the Run Experience video.
  • Breathe through my nose: This is the one thing that McKeown really pounds throughout his material - noses are for breathing, mouths are for eating. I do pretty well at breathing through my nose, but it's something to stay mindful of.
  • Do breathing exercises daily: I haven't gotten to the part of the book that has many breathing exercises yet, but I do have an app on my phone with breathing exercises that I've enjoyed doing in the past, so I'll start with them. 
  • Retest BOLT score weekly: I'm not sure what a reasonable expectation is for improvement week to week over a 5 week period, so I don't have a real goal here, just want to see if/how much it improves. Supposedly there are noticeable improvements in mental and physical performance for every 5 seconds you add to your BOLT score.

 

Like I said, the science makes sense to me, but considering my science credentials, or lack thereof, that doesn't mean much, so I'm mostly treating this challenge like a 5 week experiment to see if I notice any benefits to practicing breathing exercises and improving my score.

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"For God did not give us a spirit of fear; but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline". - 2 Timothy 1:7

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." -Gandalf

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Interesting experiment!!

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Some kind of Jedi .....

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Interesting. Following along to see how it goes. I was reading thinking how I'm able to hold my breath for a decent time, and then you said "without your body craving air" and I think I'm down to only a few seconds in that case🤪

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56 minutes ago, Elastigirl said:

Interesting. Following along to see how it goes. I was reading thinking how I'm able to hold my breath for a decent time, and then you said "without your body craving air" and I think I'm down to only a few seconds in that case🤪

Yeah, it's really not about holding your breath as long as possible. You're supposed to be able to take two or three normal breaths after and be fine. If you have to take a huge gulp of air at the end, you went too long. The other thing that changes it a lot is that you hold on the exhale, not the inhale, so that cuts a lot of time off for me as well.

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"For God did not give us a spirit of fear; but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline". - 2 Timothy 1:7

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." -Gandalf

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Breathing exercises done for the day.

 

Book exercise: He recommends practicing breath holds while walking and seeing how many paces you can go. I like this one because I can do it during my lunch walk and it really doesn't take any extra effort or time. In the book, he recommends working up to 80 paces (I don't know if he's counting a pace as one step or two steps. For now, I'm counting them like steps, but he's going to go into more detail later, so hopefully that will be cleared up.) Anyways, I was at 20 steps today. 

App exercises: The preloaded exercises on the app are Equal Breathing: 4 count in, 4 count out; Box Breathing: 4 count in, 4 count hold, 4 count out, 4 count hold; and 4-7-8: 4 count in, 7 count hold, 8 count out. I don't like the 4-7-8, so I almost never do it, but I do like the other two.

Custom: I've added three exercises to the app: 6 breaths/minute: 5 count in, 5 count out; Breath Hold: 4 count in, 4 count out, 5 count hold; and Paused Breathing: 4 count in, 1 count hold, 4 count out, 1 count hold. For breath hold, I'd like to increase the hold after the exhale as it gets more comfortable, and with the paused breathing I'd like to slowly make the breaths shorter and the holds longer.

I repeat each exercise cycle for about 1 minute, so I can get through all of them in just over 5 minutes. Very manageable, although I'd also like to work on increasing the number of cycles, so this will go up, and I'll also have to see what exercises from the book I want to add in as I get further into it.

 

I've been mindful of my breathing today, and it's pretty easy to only breathe through my nose as long as I make note of it now and then.

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"For God did not give us a spirit of fear; but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline". - 2 Timothy 1:7

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." -Gandalf

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Happy Monday, nerds! I did not do my breathing exercises over the weekend, but I wasn't really expecting to either. I did pay attention to breathing through my nose, even when I was working kind of hard, so that's a good step. I also read a couple more chapters. It's mostly more about how important it is to breathe through your nose at all times. He points out that sleeping is when a lot of people revert to mouth breathing, so he suggests lightly taping your mouth overnight so you have to breathe through your nose. He acknowledges that this is uncomfortable for many people and that you should do this for a little bit at a time while awake to get used to it before trying to go over night. I'm not a huge fan of this idea, so while I'm not completely discounting it, I'm not planning to try it right at the moment. We'll see how much progress I make just doing the exercises while awake, and if I feel like I've really hit a wall, I might consider trying the tape.

 

I got 2/3rds of my west wall framed over the weekend and finished up my housesitting gig. It felt so nice to sleep in my own bed again last night. This morning I meant to put laundry away before work, but my animals missed me, so I spent that time snuggling instead.

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"For God did not give us a spirit of fear; but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline". - 2 Timothy 1:7

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." -Gandalf

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I did not read any more of the book yesterday, but I did get my breathing exercises done. Did the step counting on my lunch walk, and I really struggled at first to even get to 10 steps, but then I made it up to 15-17 pretty easily and actually hit 24 once.  I did my app exercises in the evening and added in another exercise from the book, which is just to breathe very lightly, taking smaller than normal breaths and see if you can sustain air hunger for 5 minutes. He says to start with 2-3 minutes, so I set a timer for 2 minutes, and I made it, but it was uncomfortable. Going to stick with 2 minutes for the rest of this week and, depending on how it feels by the weekend, try adding time next week.

 

Very productive last evening, built the last panel for my east wall and cleaned all my brooder things because I pick up round 2 of my meaties on Wednesday. Got off to a slow start this morning because Anastasia jumped into bed and convinced me to hit the snooze a couple times for a nice snuggling session. At some point I should probably convince her that I actually do have to get up when my alarm goes off, but being this affectionate is a new enough development in her that I want to encourage it as much as possible.

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"For God did not give us a spirit of fear; but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline". - 2 Timothy 1:7

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." -Gandalf

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Well, week one was pretty hit or miss with my breathing exercises, but somehow I managed to increase my breath hold to 26 seconds. That's a 10 second improvement.  I haven't really noticed any increased energy or mental sharpness or whatever, but it's also been crazy humid here, which has everyone including me feeling pretty lethargic. The weather's supposed to break tonight, so that should help me perk up. The book still hasn't gotten into that many exercises, although it did give a breathing warmup/cooldown which I'm interested in trying once I start running again. The last chapter I read talked about how increasing your breath hold mimics high altitude training and went into a little more detail one why he has you hold on the exhale instead of the inhale. I am enjoying the book more than I thought, some of the promo material sounded a bit infomercial-ly, but it's been a pretty balanced presentation of information so far. He gave some numbers on the improvements that Olympic athletes have seen by switching to his breathing method, and the claims haven't been too wild. It's been improvements of 1-5%, which is a huge factor at an elite level when things can come down to fractions of a second.

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"For God did not give us a spirit of fear; but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline". - 2 Timothy 1:7

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." -Gandalf

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Week 2 wrap up a little late: 

I'm a bit stalled out on the book. I thought there would be more exercises, but so far he just keeps recommending the same exercise for every problem. On a related note: he keeps suggesting that the same thing will help with every problem. Asthma, irregular heartbeat, fatigue, I'm not even sure what all because the last couple chapters I did read, I only half skimmed. I'm a big fan of a holistic approach to health and I don't actually doubt that improved breathing can have a wide-ranging affect across multiple conditions. But he's got an agenda to promote his brand, so he's approaching every problem with the pre-set idea that his methods will help, so I tend to view any of his data a bit skeptically. I haven't given up on finishing the book, but I'm very glad I waited for a library copy instead of buying it.

 

I've been doing really well at breathing through my nose and staying mindful of my breathing. If nothing else, cementing this should cut down on my throat ailments this winter.

 

Breathing Exercises - I missed these a lot last week. Mostly I was doing them on my lunch break, but I had other stuff going on a lot of days last week, so that threw me off the routine. I have plans for lunch today too, but I'm walking there so I should be able to get some done in transit.

 

BOLT Score: 30 seconds! I haven't noticed any of the miracle improvements you supposedly get with every 5 seconds of additional breath hold, but it's still satisfying to see the number go up, and I'm still somewhat hopeful that I'll notice the difference once I start running again.

 

 

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"For God did not give us a spirit of fear; but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline". - 2 Timothy 1:7

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." -Gandalf

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Last week (week three?) was a bit of a miss. I had some combination of allergies and/or a cold that left me all stuffed up and made it very hard to do any of my breathing exercises. As a result, my BOLT score was low (22 seconds) but I'm not going to sweat that too much. I got my exercises done yesterday, so we're just going to jump right back into it and my score should recover by the end of the week. I'm also almost done with the book. All in all, I'm a bit underwhelmed, but I am going to write down some of the stuff he recommends before I return it to the library and see how much of a difference I notice once I get back to running.

 

In other news, completely unrelated to my challenge, I finished framing the side walls on my barn/apartment!

 

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Next step, the ridgebeam!

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"For God did not give us a spirit of fear; but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline". - 2 Timothy 1:7

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." -Gandalf

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