The Oxygen Advantage® by Patrick McKeown
It has been well documented that those who live at higher altitudes tend to live longer. The precise mechanism behind this is not known and could be a result of several factors. However, one of the leading candidates for this explanation is a reduced partial pressure of oxygen at a higher altitude.
Research is very clear that calorie restriction extends life span. But another nutrient many of us don’t frequently consider is oxygen. Just as excess calories can cause metabolic damage, excess oxygen can also prematurely damage your tissues through the generation of excess free radicals. These are highly reactive and destructive molecules that cause damage to the fats in your cell membranes, proteins, and your DNA. Free radicals are generated by the normal breakdown of oxygen during metabolism. We all create a certain amount of free radicals through the very act of breathing, and incorporating breathing exercises designed to maintain a healthy breathing volume seems to be an effective strategy to keep your oxygen at an optimum level, and thus minimize free radical damage.
Additionally altitude training is a tactic many elite endurance athletes use to gain a competitive edge. One way of tapping into your body’s natural resources is to purposefully expose yourself to reduced oxygen intake for a short period of time. This will improve your blood’s oxygen carrying capacity and also increases your VO2 max.
Unfortunately most of us will live our lives close to sea level, and do not achieve this benefit. But there is a simple strategy that will allow you to access the benefits of living at a high altitude and reduced oxygen intake, and that is by keeping your mouth closed while you are breathing, and by practicing the various exercises as outlined in this book. This is a challenge during intense exercise due to air hunger, but this is when most of the benefit actually occurs. I have personally implemented the information from The Oxygen Advantage® during my high intensity workouts. It took me several weeks to make the transition to breathing through my nose the entire time, but once accomplished, breathing became a far more efficient process for me.
Many may know that I am a major fan of using simple, inexpensive lifestyle changes to avoid expensive and dangerous medications and surgery. The Oxygen Advantage®, is one strategy that I believe should be included in your health habit arsenal. There simply are no downsides that I can identify and there are massive upsides. I use it personally, and would strongly encourage you to apply it to your life so you can reap the rewards.