Breath types

Many of us don't realize the importance of proper breathing and its impact on our overall health and well-being. By breathing, you can at any time assess the state of a person’s health, the quality of his sleep, the ability to cope with stress and the ability to relax. 

Our breathing has a certain pattern: inhale, exhale, pause. At rest or in a relaxed state, you may notice a slight pause between breaths. This type of breathing is natural: we inhale and exhale without any extra effort.

The type of breathing depends on how often you breathe. An adult at rest inhales and exhales an average of 12 to 15 times per minute. Young children breathe differently: newborns inhale and exhale about 40 times per minute. 

How breathing changes

During life, the frequency of inhalations and exhalations steadily decreases: 

  • in a baby – about 30 breaths per minute; 
  • for a small child — only 25; 
  • for a teenager — breathing is even calmer, 16–20 breaths per minute. 

However, this value changes quite a bit as the breath type changes. For example, when breathing becomes faster during physical activity, whether it is sports or stress, a short pause usually disappears, and only two phases are obtained in the breathing cycle instead of three: inhalation and exhalation.

After exercise, this indicator returns to normal, and breathing returns to its natural rhythm – the necessary pause in breathing reappears.

Optimal type of breathing

During normal breathing in an adult in a state of physical rest, inhalation lasts approximately 2–3 seconds, and exhalation — a little longer, usually 

3–4 seconds, followed by the aforementioned pause. It usually lasts up to 4 seconds.

Few are aware of this pause, but it is extremely important. Its duration determines the respiratory rate, which, as we have already mentioned, decreases from infancy to adulthood, and then settles at 12-15 breaths per minute.

During this pause, the dynamic balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body is optimal, and tissues, muscles and organs receive energy. As soon as the level of carbon dioxide rises, a respiratory impulse occurs spontaneously.

Type of breathing with disorders

If the pause in breathing is reduced or completely disappears in a calm state, then we can talk about violations in breathing. In addition to the depth of breathing, the rhythm of breathing usually changes noticeably. This may indicate diseases, for example, of the heart or kidneys, injuries in the thoracic region, which lead to shallow, shallow breathing.

The wrong type of breathing does not always indicate an injury, it can also indicate the wrong type of breathing. Just as a person can slouch with a sedentary lifestyle, so with the habit of breathing through the mouth, and not through the nose, breathing becomes shallow.

If your breathing occurs predominantly in the upper chest, then you often breathe through your mouth. In most cases, this results in too much air being inhaled or exhaled in one breath or exhalation. In this case, the respiratory rate increases, breathing is usually well audible, there is an extremely short pause in breathing (only 1 second), which can sometimes disappear completely.

In the prevailing nasal breathing, more air enters the lower parts of the lungs, breathing is calmer and easier. Between each breath there is a short pause lasting 2-3 seconds. These are not universal indicators, but people with this type of breathing are usually healthy and full of vitality, while people with mouth breathing often feel tired.

How to change breathing

If you notice that your mouth breathing predominates, do not worry. The situation can be changed with the help of breathing exercises. The well-being and medical indicators of many people improve only by improving breathing techniques. In other words, by switching from mouth breathing to nasal breathing. In the long term, this will lead not only to an improvement in well-being, but also in medical indicators.


Differences in nasal and oral breathing: human breathing pattern, optimal type of breathing and impaired breathing.