Breath By James Nestor

Breath By James Nestor is a fascinating book about the powers of breathing, how they are underutilized and when functioning at peak can improve your well being. Breath dives into thousands of years of medical texts and recent cutting edge studies plus some personal anecdotes from the author.

RATING: 4.3/5



  • Some researchers were also showing that many modern maladies— asthma, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, psoriasis, and more could either be reduced or reversed simply by changing the way we inhale and exhale. 
  • By the law of averages, you will take 670 million breaths in your lifetime. 
  • Oxygen produces 16 times more energy than carbon dioxide. 
  • Simply training yourself to breathe through your nose could cut total exertion in half and offer huge gains in endurance. 
  • In a single breath, more molecules of air will pass through your nose than all the grains of sand on all the worlds beaches— trillions and trillions of them. 
  • Nasal breathing alone can boost nitric oxide sixfold, which is one of the reasons we can absorb but 18% more oxygen than by just breathing through the mouth. 
  • The greatest indicator of the lifespan wasn’t genetics, diet, or the amount of daily exercise, as many had suspected. It was a lung capacity.
  • The tubes that make up the tissues of the lungs are very small, and we’ve got a lot of them. If you lined up all the tubes in the airways of your body, they’d reach from New York to Key West – more than 1500 miles. 
  • Breathing was like rowing a boat: take a zillion short and stilted strokes will get you where you’re going, but they pale in comparison to the efficiency and speed of fewer, longer strokes. 
  • Breathing at a normal rate, our longs will absorb only about a quarter of that available oxygen in the air. The majority of that oxygen is exhaled back out. By taking longer breaths, we allow our lungs to soak up more in fewer breaths. 
  • The lungs themselves will lose about 12% of capacity from the age of 30 to 50, and will continue to climb even faster as we get older. If we make it to 80, we’ll be able to take in 30% less air than we did in our 20s. 
  • Mammals with the lowest resting heart rates live the longest. And it’s no coincidence that these are consistently the same mammals that breathe the slowest. 
  • By the time a woman reaches 60, she’ll have lost more than a third of her bone mass. If she lives to 80, she’ll have as much bone as she had when she was 15. 
    The perfect breath is this: 
  • Breathe in for about 5.5 seconds,
  • Then exhale for 5.5 seconds.
  • That’s 5.5 breaths a minute for a total of about 5.5 liters of air. 
    • Navy SEALs use this breathing technique to stay calm intense situations:
  • Inhale to a count of 4; hold 4; exhale 4. Repeat. 
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