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10 Fun Facts About Breathing & the Respiratory System

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Our ability to breathe is fascinating, as it’s one of the only systems in our body that can be controlled both voluntarily, through the central nervous system, and more often involuntarily, through the autonomic nervous system. This overlap between the two systems is the reason why focused, intentional breathing methods through yoga and meditation are able to affect other involuntary muscles like the heart.

Our breath is what gives us life and without it, the human body cannot exist. But is it possible to better your life by paying more attention to how you breathe?

While breathing is so commonplace to our existence, proper breathing techniques and awareness of breath can have dramatic implications on our health. Having knowledge of specific breathing techniques can lower stress, help you sleep, help your mind function more acutely, and even curb food cravings.

When we breathe, the average adult draws in about 13 pints of air into the lungs every minute. From the lungs, that oxygen is then transferred from the air sacs in our lungs throughout the body via red blood cells to the blood vessels that distribute it to nearly every system. Meanwhile, waste gases, like CO2, are exchanged and filtered out. 

For the average person with good lung health, the amount of oxygen in the blood, or the arterial blood gas (ABG) oxygen level, should be somewhere between 95-100 percent oxygen.

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