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Cardio Endurance and How to Increase O2 Delivery

15. 10. 2015 - By Nirvana Fitness
Generally, most people just do various cardiovascular endurance exercises and activities, but do not have a system or method that provides clear test-criteria and guarantee specific benefits after acheiving certain results.

However, our system is based on the body 
oxygen test that predicts amazing health benefits at 60+ s for the body oxygen test. These benefits include 4 hours of great sleep (naturally and without trying), a natural desire (often craving!) to exercise, and many other effects (see the last Table on this page below). In order to experience these effects, you need to change the way you breathe 24/7 or to retrain breathing.

Cardiovascular endurance is defined as the ability of the heart to provide enough oxygen to muscles during physical exercise for a long period of time. Elite endurance athletes always have very high VO2max (usually over 70 ml/kg/min in males). VO2max (maximum O2 consumption measured in ml of O2 per kg of body weight in 1 minute) is mainly an inherited factor. Therefore, you need to have super genes to become an Olympic champion. However, whatever your current VO2max, optimum training and correct breathing 24/7 can increase it by up to 15-20 units. Let us consider how.

Oxygen is provided via respiration. Therefore, it is necessary to find out the ideal or optimum breathing patterns at rest and during exercise that provide maximum O2 amounts for muscles of the body.

Clinical experience of more than 150 Soviet and Russian medical doctors with sick patients and elite athletes suggests that people with more frequent and deep breathing at rest have reduced cardio fitness and less O2 levels in cells. My own experience with hundreds of my students agrees with observations of these doctors.

If you pay close attention to breathing of very fit and healthy elite athletes at rest and during exercise, you can notice that they breathe slower and less in both situations. (Note that millions of people believe that breathing deeper or more air improves O2 delivery to cells, but hundreds of clinical studies proved that hyperventilation reduces O2 transport to body cells.) Here is a summary of main findings related to 4 common breathing patterns at rest. You can click the links to see dozens of studies that confirm these numbers.

Table. MV (Minute Ventilation) and Rf (Respiratory Frequency) at rest

ConditionMV, L/minRf, breaths/minOxygen 
extraction, %
Breath patternReferences
(click below for details)
Diseases*12-18>18<12 %OverbreathingOver 40 studies
Healthy6-710-1225 %NormalResults of 14 studies
Norm61225 %NormalMedical textbooks
Super-health23>60 %IdealObservations/yoga

*Chronic diseases include heart disease, diabetes, asthma, COPD, cystic fibrosis, cancer, and many others. Study Hyperventilation Syndrome for references and numbers.

As it is easy to observe, heavy breathing at rest results in relatively heavy breathing during exercise and that makes moderate or intensive exercise in the sick very difficult or impossible.

Table. Minute ventilation during moderate exercise (15-fold metabolism)

Short-term respiratory effectsBlood lactateDuration of performance
Chronic diseasesAbout 150 L/minMaximum mouth ventilationVery highA few minutes
Normal breathing90 L/minHeavy nose breathingElevated1-2 hours
Super health states30 L/minEasy nose breathingNearly normalMany hours

In spite of huge improvements in diet, modern people are less fit and have reduced cardio endurance in comparison with people living about a century ago. This graph explains the cause.

Furthermore, fast or deep breathing at rest undermines desire of ordinary people and athletes to exercise and do sport activities, their sports performance and cardiovascular endurance, as the next Table and its examples show.

Table. Examples of automatic breathing patterns on cardio endurance

Body-oxygen levelBreathing patternLevel of cardiovascular endurance
1-5 s CPVery heavy breathing patternPhysical activity can be life-threatening since acute exacerbation can occur at any moment due to critically low body oxygen level. No performance.
5-10 s CPHeavy breathing patternExercise can cause acute exacerbation of health problems (asthma attacks, stroke, angina pain, seizures, and so forth).Poor performance
11-20 s CPIneffective breathing patternMost people experience and complain about chronic fatigue, but can walk with only nose breathing for hours on a flat surface. Fit athletes can exercise with mouth breathing. Cardiovascular endurance and health are greatly compromised.
20-30 s CPDeep breathing patternThere are less or no complaints about fatigue. Physical activity (e.g., easy relaxed jogging) is well tolerated, but requires considerable psychological effort and self-discipline, unless one is an athlete. Reduced cardiovascular endurance.
30-40 s CPLight degree of hyperventilationExercise is comfortable and relatively easy, but a systematic or daily exercise routine generally requires some self-discipline. Subnormal level of cardiovascular endurance.
40-60 s daily CP, less than 40 s morning CPSubnormal breathing patternExercise is easy and pleasant; nose breathing during exercise is natural and comfortable. Nearly normal levels of cardiovascular endurance and performance.
About 60 s morning CPNormal breathing patternExercise is joyful and people crave it. Level of energy is very high. If people force themselves not to exercise, their CP drops. Physiologically normal cardiovascular endurance.
Over 90 s MCPVery light breathing patternStates of super health with enhanced cardiovascular endurance

For more information how basal breathing patterns determine health symptoms, lifestyle, and health states, visit Buteyko Table of Health Zones.

Natural lifestyle choices before and after breathing retraining

Lifestyle factor:Body oxygen < 30 sBody oxygen > 50 s
Energy levelMedium, low, or very lowHigh
Desire to exerciseNot strong, but possibleCraving and joy of exercise
Intensive exercise with nose breathingHard or impossibleEasy and effortless
Typical mind statesConfusion, anxiety, depressionFocus, concentration, clarity
Craving for coffee, sugar and junk foodsPresentAbsent
Addictions to smoking, alcohol, and drugsPossibleAbsent
Desire to eat raw foodsWeak and rareVery common and natural
Correct postureRare and requires effortsNatural and automatic
SleepOften of poor quality; > 7 hoursExcellent quality; < 5 hours naturally

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