The Curious Connection between Breath rate and Longevity

Have you ever considered the possibility, that even the way you breath could increase/decrease the number of years you will live? Never even touched the mind? Then it’s time to read this!

For decades, scientists have pondered over a peculiar characteristic of mammals, and vertebrates to certain extent – the slower they breath, the longer they tend to live. Here’s some sample data of a few mammals’ respiratory rate and average lifespan.

Mouse: Breathing rate = 90 to 170 /min, Life = 1.5–3 years

Rabbit : Breathing rate = 30–60 /min, Life = 5–6 years

Monkey: Breathing rate = 30–50 /min, Life = 20–30 years

Dogs: Breathing rate = 20–30 /min, Life = more than 10-20 years

Human: Breathing rate = 15–18 /min, Life = 60–80 years

Horses: Breathing rate = 8–15 /min, Life = more than 50 years

Whales: Breathing rate = 4–6 /min, Life = more than 100 years
Whether one of the two characteristics influences the other , or both are co-existent, is still debated by scientists, but the connection is clearly palpable.

To explain it, several theories have been put forward, the most notable is that of metabolic rate’s correlation to blood oxygen levels. The more rapidly an organism breaths, the more is its metabolic rate (the body’s energy turnover), leading to faster ageing and causing the body to burn out its vital resources faster. As one can infer easily, this causes a shorter life span.

Now some may ask, that how come the breath rate of children be higher than adults, who have a shorter life expectancy left? The answer is simple. Children have a lot more regenerative and growth potential than adults, and if fact they need to burn up more energy in proportion to their cell mass for their growth function than the adults. As we get older however, the body needs to conserve more and more resources to maintain health and prolong lifespan.

That brings us to the main question – How to increase longevity and health using breathing techniques?

Yoga contains a very interesting and atheletically less demanding branch called Pranayama (pronounced Prā-ñā-yā-muh). Quite literally, it means and involves merely manipulating your normal daily breathing to bind and increase the life energy into yourself. As simple as it can get, isn’t it? Yet, we here will strictly limit our commentary to scientifically proven, or at least relatable stuff from the ancient knowledge. So putting it in terms of modern science, Pranayama breathing improves the cardiac autonomous modulation (simply speaking, the involuntary control mechanism of your heartbeats) and lowers the resting heart rate, which is a recognised direct affecting factor for longevity.

So how to achieve this feat using Pranayama? Well, that could be the subject of a whole new blog; but I will be giving you some really easy snippets to use, that give best results in least efforts, in this and subsequent articles.

To start with, Yoga prescribes a ratio of 2:1:4 for the time-lengths of inhalation, holding and exhalation of breath respectively. The rationale behind this is to strain your respiratory muscles just enough to retain the air longer in the lungs and achieve optimal ventilation without causing oxidative stress. A bit too nerdy of an explanation? Never mind, just get on with the actual work. If the holding part seems difficult to do, just start with practicing to exhale for twice the time you take to inhale. You may have to strain a bit to exhale longer initially; try to let out the air more slowly, and you will find the next inhalation get smoother every time as you go on, much the way it is with all exercises. This exercise can be done anywhere anytime, in any pose; even at work, unless you are doing some heavy-duty physical labour. Persist in it, and it will become an involuntary habit that you don’t have to try consciously for. Once you achieve it, just sit back and experience your health, energy levels and alertness soar to new highs!

This was giving you just a small teaser for today, for the upcoming Yoga series of articles.

Stay tuned…

…and…

Stay healthy, stay happy!

About the Author – 

Dr. Harshad Rajandekar is a Practitioner of Integrated and Pure Ayurvedic Medicine, based out of Nasik, India. He also does consultations in Yoga and various other Indian systems of holistic wellness. He can be reached here for booking an online or direct consultation appointment.

More articles by Dr. Harshad, that you may like :

The Vegetarian Diet Plan for Bodybuilding

Did You Know #2 : What Your Poop’s colour tells about Your Health

Top Ten Misconceptions about Ayurveda Busted

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8 thoughts on “The Curious Connection between Breath rate and Longevity

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    1. Thanks for the interest. It is sad but true that numerical estimates vary quite a bit in biology, depending on a great number of factors, like source population, subspecies, period and method of sampling etc.; and even then there are still exceptions present. So I’ve used the words “tend to live”, implying that it is a generalised theoretical consideration. Yet, the part about the longevity benefits of Pranayama is a scientifically proven fact that you can surely rely upon.

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  1. Love this info. Breathing techniques have saved my life. Practicing a Yogic lifestyle has helped balance it. Nutrition has helped me have sustainable energy and Massage Therapy as well Ayurvedic medicine has helped with stress and maintain wellness. Massage has also helped with insomnia due to stress. It all started with proper breathing though. So thankful. Thanks for the wonderful post.

    Liked by 1 person

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