05. 04. 2006
Powerbreathe to work out your lungs
I never got into the powerwalking craze; I prefer the old-fashioned exercise of running very slowly, which is much less pretentious if a bit lame-sounding. Powerbreathing, on the other hand, may be something I'd like to try, though at first glance, I wondered why in the world anyone would need to practice breathing when it's something we all do naturally and involuntarily almost every second of our lives. The Powerbreathe, by Gaiam, is a hand-held inspiratory muscle trainer, which comes in three strengths: for wellness, strength, and sports performance. Each sells for $70 on the Gaiam website. Not only is it the official inspiratory muscle trainer of Ironman, it's also recommended for people who suffer from asthma as a drug-free treatment.
The rationale for exercising lung muscles makes some sense to me now given this information from Gaiam:
"There is a strong relationship between the strength of our breathing muscles and how breathless we feel. A useful analogy is to think about how much lighter a dumbbell might feel after you've trained your muscles for 12 weeks, compared to how it felt when you first lifted it; stronger muscles lessen the effort sensation of all muscle actions, including breathing."
This gives me a new appreciation for the deep breathing you do in yoga, which I imagine provides a similar benefit.
And here's something really interesting that I didn't know before I read about this device: women have smaller, weaker lungs than men:
"Not only do women have weaker inspiratory muscles than men, but research from the USA suggests that there may be another important factor which make strenuous exercise even more challenging for women - smaller lungs. Even when the smaller physical size of women is taken into account[ ], their lungs are still smaller than men's. Because of their smaller size, women also have narrower airways, which means its harder to move air in and out of the lungs."
So, as I choose to interpret it, this means that in terms of effort, 45 minutes on a treadmill for me is equivalent to . . . let's say at least an hour and a quarter for a man.