OXYGEN AND MUSCLES – THE BENEFITS
It’s a well-known fact that we need to breathe oxygen in order to survive. However, the effects that oxygen has on our muscle performance and exercise capabilities is often overlooked. To understand the benefits it’s important to first consider how the process of oxygenating musclesworks. Oxygen enters the blood stream where some of it is carried to your muscles immediately and the balance is stored by a compound called “myoglobin”.
Even when you’re not working out the myoglobin is used to break down glucose and turn into fuel for your muscles called ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate).
Your muscles work harder while exercising which creates an increased demand for oxygen. As a result your breathing becomes heavier and your heart rate increases in order to pull more oxygen into the blood stream.
During exercise the oxygen that reaches your muscle does not leave; instead it converts any available glucose into ATP. When your body is unable to deliver oxygen to your muscles fast enough your muscles start to turn glucose into lactic acid (instead of ATP). You switch from working in your aerobic zone to anaerobic which can only be sustained for a short period of time. In addition to needing a constant supply of oxygen to the muscles for endurance it is also essential for post-workout recovery.
During recovery oxygen assists in restoring pre-workout ATP levels and helps the liver break down lactic acid turning it into simple carbohydrates. Essentially improving the flow of oxygen to your muscles will improve your athletic performance as it improves the muscle performance, improves your levels of stamina/endurance, and allows your body to recover more quickly after working out.
You can improve the flow of oxygen to your muscles by improving your blood oxygenation as the muscles receive oxygen from the blood stream.
If you’re new to working out getting in shape and beginning a new exercise program will help improve your oxygen levels. Additionally, maintaining an Alkaline body pH will also help. “There is a proportional relationship between oxygen and pH level. As the pH level lowers, the affinity of oxygen in hemoglobin molecules also decreases.
Therefore as the body becomes more alkaline, more oxygen is released.” A diet that is rich in fruits and vegetable and low in: processed foods, alcohol, sugar, and dairy will help balance your body’s pH level. As your pH level becomes more Alkaline you will have fewer cravings for sugary foods.
Professional massages can also help to oxygenate the bloodstream and muscles because massages can improve circulation which carries more oxygen to individual cells.
Breathing exercisesare extremely effective in improving oxygenation. Yogic breathing also referred to more descriptively as diaphragmatic breathing or the Sanskrit form “pranayama” improve your oxygen intake by focusing on using your key respiratory muscle (the diaphragm) to take in deeper inhales and longer exhales releasing a greater volume of carbon dioxide.
You may also use a breathing resistance device like Expand-A-Lung to strengthen the diaphragm quicker by adding the element of inspiratory and expiratory resistance.
The Expand-A-Lung allows you to intake a greater volume of oxygen and exhale a greater volume of carbon dioxide which is great for the efficiency of oxygenating your muscles and improving your cardiovascular endurance.
Lastly, there are vitamins and supplements that can be helpful for improving oxygenation: Alpha-Lipoic Acid, CoQ10, and if your iron content is low adding an iron supplement may also be beneficial.