To be honest usually when I mention the word hyperventilation related to exercise I get a blank stare, just saying. Most people relate hyperventilation to stress, emotional stress not physical stress. But I’m sure you’ve noticed that huffing and puffing kicks in almost as soon as you start to exercise. Hyper + ventilation = rapid uncontrolled breathing, the normal reaction of the body to any kind of stress which increases oxygen demand beyond what normal breathing provides.
It’s a simple enough concept, until I bring up the reason why the body triggers automatic hyperventilation – it’s not getting enough oxygen. There are many factors that increase the demand for oxygen during exercise, including an increase in metabolic rate, production of lactate, drop in blood pH, even the switch to body fat utilization will increase oxygen consumption. Oxygen is so important to the body, that just the thought of not getting enough can cause panic, and trigger hyperventilation. Since this is what nature has provided as a defence against oxygen depletion, it’s generally assumed that’s as good as it gets.
However oxygen debt during exercise limits physical conditioning primarily to muscle tissue. None of the other organs and glands have the singular privilege of hogging most of the blood supply, not even the heart muscle. Working muscle pulls as much as 80% of the blood out of the body during exercise, while the heart itself which is pumping harder than ever gets only a fraction of one percent increase, that’s (point) .125%. Still it’s better than the rest of the body where circulation is drastically decreased.
The brain is protected by a blood brain barrier except for the pineal gland. This important little gland is at high risk of ossification as we get older because it is completely vulnerable to any chemical or circulatory changes in the body during exercise. So you can see why optimizing oxygenation to the point of mitigating the stress of oxygen debt is highly advantageous. The question then becomes how do we increase of efficiency of oxygen absorption in the lungs and distribution to all tissues equally.
We know if we do nothing the body will react by hyperventilating, that really is the best it can do when left to its own devices. So we need to support the body with a breathing pattern that complements the movement pattern so precisely no hyperventilation is observable at any degree of performance intensity, speed or duration. This is not the best place for ad hoc combinations of exercises as there is little room for error. All the physiological mechanisms that control the carbon dioxide/ oxygen ratio, the ventilation/ perfusion ratio, and the muscle/ organ circulatory ratio must be accounted for in the exercise design if we are to engineer a perfect match.
NOTE: It’s absolutely essential to condition the body to adapt to day to day stress. That’s why it was necessary to identify a specialized warm up cool down that could oxygenate all the organs, glands and tissues (not just muscle) to mitigate overtraining and increase the benefit of regular fitness and functional training.
I use respiratory terminology in it’s most basic meaning in the article because it’s a simple way to differentiate between deliberate voluntary hypo-ventilation and automatic involuntary hyper-ventilation, both of which imbalance homeostatic ratios of carbon dioxide/ oxygen and acid/ base equilibrium. And pHx balances homeostasis even at maximum heart rate.
For more information about the three-in-one Body’Fit pH Fitness™ exercise (short form… pHx™) warm up cool down and workout view the videos on the youtube BodyFitLife channel.