Oxygen and Exercise

Oxygen and Exercise

As human beings, we all know about the importance of oxygen. As fitness professionals, we spend a good deal of time with our clients reminding them when and how to breathe. There are many different breathing techniques and patterns, and that can get confusing. When do I inhale? When do I exhale? How long do I exhale for? These are some of the most common questions we’ll hear from our clients. Often times, teachers will confuse the need for oxygen with the breath required for an exercise.

For most people, low to moderate exercise is usually aerobic in nature. Common types of aerobic exercise include running at a comfortable pace (you should be able to speak without running out of breath), fast walking, swimming, and biking. With aerobic exercise, oxygen is carried through your breath to the muscles to give them the energy they need. In anaerobic exercise, the energy comes from glycogen stores in the body, rather than from oxygen. Anaerobic exercise is often higher intensity levels of exertion like sprinting and weight lifting. Yoga and Pilates are not considered aerobic activities even though they are excellent for strength-training and can certainly make you break a sweat.

As IM=X Pilates instructors, we want to emphasize the Forced Exhalation breath for greater muscle efficiency and stabilization. It is a misconception that we need to fully inhale before every breath in IM=X Pilates, as that can cause dizziness, a condition known hyperoxia, or too much oxygen. In an IM=X workout, (whether on the Xercizer, Floor, Platform or Tower) we want to cue the exhale as the emphasis before the direction for movement. Rather than focus on taking a “deep breath in” use verbal cues that emphasize the following, “exhale, contract your pelvic floor, now press away from the footbar.” The IM=X Interval Training formats address the combination of aerobic and anaerobic activity for increased weight management and strength training. At IM=X Pilates, we are focused on helping our clients increase lean muscle mass, build endurance and improve their fitness level.