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The Other BPM

We're all familiar with checking our pulse in beats per minute or BPM

It's a fairly standard marker for health, recovery etc.

But after my post the other day listening to James Nestor talking to Dr Rangan Chaterjee on his podcast, as well as the various other sources I pay attention to on the subject of health and performance, it does seem we should pay equal, or more attention to the other BPM.

Breaths Per Minute.

In the medical world, they suggest somewhere around 12 breaths per minute is a healthy norm.

But looking back at studies from breathing experts and researchers as well as the teachings from various martial arts and Chi Gung this number seems way too high.

I've just timed my breathing as I sat in the car waiting for my kids to come out of school.

In one minute I counted 6.5 breaths. That's 7 inhales and 6 exhales in that 60 second window.

I then took my pulse. It was 60 beats per minute.

Currently I don't consider myself to be in peak condition, I'm not at the fitness level I like to be at.

But Still have a resting mid afternoon pulse of 60BPM And a breathing rate of 6.5BPM

What does this mean?

Well, fast breathing coincides with a fast pulse which coincides with high arousal, aka stress

And we all know what chronic stress brings?


Faster breathing doesn't allow carbon dioxide to do its magic. ie to let the red blood cells know it's time to release it's oxygen to for use by the rest of the cells. We can make oxygen in the blood LESS bioavailable with fast breathing, or breathing that is out of sync with our energy requirements.

Many of the breathing experts recommend a rate of 5 to 6 breaths per minute when at rest.

What's yours?


Dave Hedges

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