Basics of Nasal Parasympathetic Breathing and Improving CO2 Tolerance (Breather Episode with Brad)


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By Brad Kearns. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Today we’re talking about the compelling science behind breathing more minimally, the benefits of nasal breathing, and how to improve CO2 tolerance.

One common flawed notion is that we want to breathe in as much oxygen as possible, in order for our bodies to take in as much oxygen as possible. But, as you’ll learn in today’s show, unless you are in the hospital with a serious disease or condition, we all have plenty of oxygen in our bloodstream. You’ll also learn why having a low CO2 tolerance indicates that your body is doing a poor job of delivering oxygen to the working muscles that need it.

The starting point of nasal parasympathetic breathing is to breathe as minimally as possible, through your nose only at all times, day and night for the rest of your life, except when you desperately need more air during intense exercise. Simple as that! One of the major inspirations for this show comes from my recent interest in The Oxygen Advantage: The Simple, Scientifically Proven Breathing Techniques for a Healthier, Slimmer, Faster, and Fitter You by Patrick McKeown, and in this episode, I’m sharing my top takeaways from his book, such as that the blood already has enough oxygen, taking bigger breaths will do little to increase oxygen in the blood, and oxygen release (from blood to tissues and organs) depends on carbon dioxide levels. Another major takeaway is that breathing more lightly increases carbon dioxide levels in the blood – and this actually improves oxygenation.

I also talk about the simplest way to benefit from this book, which is to continually nasal breathe, wear tape over the mouth, both at night and during light aerobic training (to ensure nasal breathing), and routinely perform breath hold exercises (after an exhalation) for progressively longer times during walking or light activity. To learn more about nasal breathing, breath hold exercises, and how to simulate high-altitude training, check out The Oxygen Advantage here.


We often overlook the importance of proper breathing. Breathe minimally through the nose. [01:26]

The more carbon dioxide we can tolerate, the better oxygen is delivered to the working muscles in the body. [04:34]

We have plenty of oxygen already. [06:53]

Breathing more lightly increases carbon dioxide levels in the blood, improving your oxygenation potential. [10:55]

Breathe through your nose only. Take the BOLT test. [12:19]

Even gentle snoring is indicative of mouth breathing. Tape your mouth closed to train yourself. [18:50]

Generally, one nostril dominates the other throughout the day. Be aware of your sleep position. [21:05]


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