#484 Your Optimal Breathing Rate

You Know It? Science Says…

In our last +1, we talked about the new sexy: vagal tone.

It’s essentially a measure of the health of our parasympathetic nervous system and a sign of our ability to flip the switch out of stress and into relaxation.

How’d we get our vagus workout on?

A nice, calm, deep breath.

Today we’re going to talk more about our breathing. Specifically, we’re going to talk about what researchers call your “resonant rate.” It’s basically your optimal breathing rate—a rate at which you flip the switch to your parasympathetic nervous system and slow down your heart rate and your brain waves into a nice, calm, healthy and happy rhythm.

How about another pop quiz?!

What would you guess is the optimal rate? How many breaths per minute?

20? 10? 5?

Answer: Science says: We want to go for 3.5 to 5 breaths per minute.

3.5 breaths per minute if you’re over 6 feet tall (like me) to 5 breaths per minute if you’re not. Doing the math, that’s (obviously) 12-second to 17-second breaths.

Which leads us to Today’s +1.

If you’re feeling so inspired, bust out a stopwatch and time your breathing rate.

What’s our baseline?

As we’ve discussed, our diaphragm is a muscle (the most underappreciated one, in fact!). So, if you’re thinking that 12- to 17-second breaths sounds crazy, take it easy and know you’ll need to do some training to get all toned up and ready to (easily) rock the target breath count.

That’s it.

That and a nice, deep breath.

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