There is more to getting fresh air than just stepping outside. But I think we can all agree we have experienced that moment when you step outside, take that deep inhale and instantly feel our body relax, the swirling in your mind takes a pause and the overall sense of what can best be described as a feeling of calm. It seems impossible to believe that it can only be from taking a few deep breaths in the fresh outside air, but don’t underestimate the power.
Getting a dose of concentrated oxygen not only clears our mind, fills our lungs and is absorbed through our body, it is making major physiological changes that is telling our body, it is safe. It is known that when we are stressed our body focusses the oxygen-carrying blood to our vital organs, in order to support what is most crucial and needed at the time. So breathing fresh air is not just something that feels good. Breathing fresh air supports many of our physiological activities, it is most crucial during times of crisis, it is the main thing we preserve during stress and the one thing that can make all run as efficiently as possible. So it only makes sense that as soon as our bodies realize it has ample oxygen to support all activities, it can relax, it can make you feel relaxed and allow your body to operate as normal.
During times of isolation it becomes one of the most useful tools to support our health and happiness, yet we are being urged to stay inside as much as possible. Which means, in times like this it is worth our effort to be creative, take extra steps and do all we can physically to seek out as much fresh air in our day, every day. For some that can be extremely challenging but not impossible.
– Much like my advise on how to seek out nature; it is valuable to check out all of your sources of fresh air through windows, access points and outdoor spaces. Some may have a better breeze or airflow which is valuable for short, quick doses. Then there may be more sheltered sources or spaces, maybe those that get more sun that can be more valuable for longer periods because the air stays warm (assuming you are in a similar Canadian Climate as I am right now).
– Take your stationary workouts to a window or access point, or even better outside. When at a clinic for Chronic Lyme I participated in one (of many) treatments, that was called Exercise with Oxygen Therapy, where you raise your heart rate for 20-30 seconds, then infuse your body with oxygen by every medial means possible. Replicate the same; do a sprint or high intensity set, then go to the windows and take the largest, deepest breaths possible. Your body is calling for oxygen so it will absorb and intake as much as possible. Think of it as an oxygen infusion.
– Take your yoga mat outside. Wear a snow suit if you have to, even if only for 10 minutes. You won’t be cold for long and as ridiculous as you may feel, the overall good feeling as a result, will override any ridiculousness. Make your focus any breathing technique you prefer.
– My favourite outdoor workout space is steps. It can be your front steps or a pile of rocks. But it can allow you to do cardio type exercises (step ups, jump ups) or more resistance type ones (push ups, dips, one legged squats). You literally only have to take one step outside your house for a full outdoor workout. And remember your key purpose in doing this is to infuse your body with oxygen. So before starting, take some deep breaths – then keep deep, long breaths your focus for the workout – as you stretch maintain the same.
– If all else fails make it a daily practice to open a window for a few minutes a day (maybe several times a day) and take some deep, really deep breaths. It will accomplish the same. I encourage nasal breathing when you can because it gets it rapidly, directly and most deeply into the lungs. Not only does your nose filter the air, it moistens it making it more easily absorbed by the body. If you have a cold or sinus issues, take some through your nose and then recover through your mouth if you must. Nasal breathing can actually improve sinus issues if you do a little every day. My favourite practice is a version of a long deep breath in, first into your chest and deep into what feels like your stomach, hold for a few seconds and then as slowly as possible out for as long as you can, getting every last molecule out. Then repeat.
Oxygen has the ability to kill certain infections on contact. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that will benefit from improved breathing skills and lung capacity. Vitamins and minerals in the air and outdoors drastically boost our immune system capabilities. But in my mind, the mental and emotional calm that can be found by the stress reducing powers of fresh air is what makes it so powerful. It will always be worth our time and efforts to take in a little fresh air. It is one of the powerful tools we have at our disposal while we stay at home these days.