Every cell in the body requires oxygen to function properly. The brain alone uses at least 12% of the total oxygen that people inhale. Problem: The breathing habits of most people don't always provide all the oxygen that the brain and body need.
Oxygen deprivation is a leading cause of persistent fatigue -- a condition that accounts for up to 15 million doctor visits annually, making it one of the most common health problems in the US. It also causes mental fogginess and, in some cases, depression. Daniel Hamner, MD, a physiatrist (physical rehabilitation specialist) and sports medicine physician provides some very useful insight to overcome this problem.
My story: For years, I barely had enough energy to get through my workday. I started reading about energy-building techniques -- everything from yoga to the latest research in exercise physiology. I quickly realized that all of these techniques aim to increase oxygen levels in the body.
At the age of 47, I developed -- and began practicing -- a high-oxygen program. Within a matter of months, my oxygen usage rose from 42.7 milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute to 55 milliliters -- a 30% increase. At the same time, my energy levels rose dramatically.
Nearly everyone can increase oxygen levels and experience a significant boost in energy in as little as two weeks. Here's how...
Step 1: Stand straight. Poor posture -- rounding the shoulders, stooping forward, etc. -- can inhibit oxygen intake.
People who stand straight, roll back their shoulders, push their chests out while squeezing their shoulder blades together and keep their chin up can increase lung capacity by 5%. Helpful: To ensure proper form, practice this while looking in a full-length mirror.
Step 2: Exercise. Aerobic exercise increases pathways in the body that carry oxygen to cells. People who start an aerobic exercise program experience an immediate increase in oxygen usage and energy. My recommendation: Walk fast, run, swim, bike, etc. -- for at least 60 minutes three days a week.
Resistance training increases strength and endurance. Consult a physical trainer or other exercise professional for a strength-training regimen that works the muscles in your upper and lower body and your core (trunk). My recommendation: Twenty to 30 minutes of strength training at least three times a week.
Step 3: Eat "charge-up" foods. A diet high in complex carbohydrates -- such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes -- significantly improves the blood's ability to transport oxygen to cells. A high-fat diet does the opposite -- it reduces the blood's oxygen-carrying capacity.
Step 4: Practice instant-energy breathing. You can reverse fatigue almost instantly with a yoga breathing technique that floods cells with oxygen and boosts energy for 15 minutes or more. What to do...
Step 5: Stop smoking -- and avoid secondhand smoke. Smokers tend to have less energy and more depression than nonsmokers in part because they get less blood and oxygen to the brain. Smoking -- as well as exposure to secondhand smoke -- increases blood levels of carbon monoxide, a waste chemical that increases fatigue. It also causes higher levels of arterial plaque -- fatty accumulations that inhibit circulation.
People who attend smoking-cessation programs or use stop-smoking products such as nicotine patches are about twice as likely to quit the habit as those who try to stop on their own.
Step 6: See a doctor if you have low energy. Fatigue is a common first symptom of hundreds of medical conditions, including iron-deficiency anemia, food allergies, heart problems and cancer. Consult your doctor if you experience mental fogginess or low physical energy for more than a few weeks.
Most people can check their own oxygen levels with this simple test...
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This article was provided by Bottom Line's Daily Health News.