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Breath Work: A Vital Sign of Fitness


Two women breathing deeply while meditating

Breath work is having a moment. Well, actually, it’s been having a moment since time immemorial since we’re always breathing!


However, we know now the importance of good breathing can help you control everything from blood pressure to immunity to anxiety. It can help you move more efficiently, avoid injury and feel less musculoskeletal pain, particularly in the neck and back area.


At Speakeasy Pilates in Lexington, VA, we like to help clients assess how well they’re breathing. I’ve recently introduced the Body Oxygen Level Test, or BOLT to my private clients, but anyone can perform this test. All you need is a stop watch and be calm and relaxed (breathing naturally) before commencing.


To do, inhale normally through your nose. Exhale normally through your nose, then pinch your nostrils shut. Using a stop watch, hold your breath until you can’t hold it anymore. The number of seconds you held your breath is your BOLT score.


Below 10 seconds: Your CO2 tolerance is way below normal. People with low BOLT scores tend to be snorers, poor sleepers and easily out of breath. They may sigh and yawn a lot. They may have neck or back pain.

10-20 seconds: Your breathing may be compromised (sneezing, wheezing, coughing). Energy, concentration and sleep may be compromised.

20-30 seconds: Your breathing is calm, effortless and normal.

30-40 seconds: You have high CO2 tolerance and can hit a higher fitness plateau.


Try this test! See how well you do. If you’re not satisfied with your results, be more intentional with your breathing and test again. Improve your breathe, improve your life.


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