Take a Deep Breath in...

Oakville Health

Amazing! You just nourished yourself with life-sustaining oxygen for every cell, tissue, and organ in your body! Whether you live at the top of a mountain or below sea level. Whether it’s day or night. Whether you are young or old. No matter who you are or where you live on the planet, you just replenished your stores of oxygen. And you can do it again right this second and you will do it over and over again all day, every day and for the most part without even thinking about it! Go ahead take another deep breath.

It’s estimated that you take anywhere from 12-20 breaths per minute after the age of 12. Younger people breathe a little faster than grownups which makes sense because their lungs are smaller and still developing. On average, that adds up to 960 breaths an hour, 23,040 breaths a day, and 8,409,600 a year. For a person who lives to 80, that would be about 672,768,000 breaths! WOW!

It’s so simple and yet that action sets off a chain of reactions that is anything but simple. Every cell in your body requires a constant stream of oxygen to stay alive. When you breathe in, either through your nose or your mouth, air goes down your windpipe (or trachea) into your lungs and inflates them like a balloon. You can easily see the effects of your lungs filing up by watching your chest rise and fall as you take a deep breath in and out.

Your windpipe splits into two separate tubes (called bronchi), one goes into your left lung, the other into your right. Once the air is in your lungs, it travels through a series of smaller and smaller tubes (called bronchioles) that divide out like tree branches until the smallest tubes end in millions of tiny air sacs (called alveoli). This is where the oxygen from the air is transferred to your blood. Then your blood circulates the oxygen to every cell in your body.

This is amazing for a number of reasons. First, the air we breathe isn’t always as clean as we would like it, but your body has ways to clean the air. Second, the air you breathe is made up of other things besides oxygen. Oxygen only makes up about 21% of air. About 78% of the air you breathe is made up of another gas called nitrogen.

Your body takes the oxygen and gets rid of the rest. Third, your body automatically regulates the speed of your breathing based on your body’s need at any given time. For example, when you are exercising, you automatically breathe faster to get more oxygen to your cells. Your body is very smart!

Like every other system in your body, your respiratory system is directed by your nerve system. Your brain coordinates all the individual parts of your respiratory system using your nerve system as a communication tool so your body can get the oxygen it needs to be its best. Chiropractors check to make sure that the bones of your spine aren’t disrupting your nerve system function so the communication is clear. The clearer the communication, the better your respiratory system and whole body can work. So see your chiropractor regularly, take a deep breath and relax. You will be in good hands.

By Judy Nutz Campanale, DC, ACP, FCSC (hon)

Provided and published by ICPA. For more information, visit discoverkidshealth.com