Walking with Breath Holds

Walking with Breath Holds is a specific exercise within the Buteyko Breathing Method that involves combining walking with short breath holds to enhance breath control and respiratory efficiency. 

This exercise helps increase carbon dioxide (CO2) tolerance, leading to normalised breathing and improved oxygen delivery to the body’s tissues.

How to perform the exercise

  1. Find a Suitable Area: Choose a peaceful and safe environment for walking, either outdoors or in a spacious indoor space.
  2. Nose Breathing: Throughout the exercise, focus on breathing exclusively through your nose. Nasal breathing helps filter, warm, and humidify the air, benefiting respiratory health.
  3. Start Walking: Begin walking at a comfortable and steady pace. Allow your breath to be natural.
  4. Gentle Breathing: Take gentle and calm breaths as you walk. Avoid deep or forceful breaths, and maintain a relaxed breathing rhythm.
  5. Short Breath Hold: After a few minutes of walking, take a gentle breath in through your nose, and then softly exhale, hold your breath and comfortably for 10 steps. The breath hold should not cause any discomfort or strain.
  6. Resume Breathing: Release the breath hold and allow yourself to breathe naturally through your nose. Maintain relaxed breathing for a moment before repeating the exercise. Allow 30-60 seconds between holds.
  7. Repeat the Exercise: Practice Walking with Breath Holds for several repetitions, gradually increasing the number of repetitions as you become more comfortable. A breath hold pattern you can follow is 10 steps x2, 15 x2, 20 x2, 25 x2, and so on.
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Benefits of the exercise

  • Normalised CO2 Levels: The short breath holds during walking help increase CO2 levels in the blood, optimising oxygen delivery to the body’s cells.
  • Improved Breath Control: Regular practice of this exercise enhances breath control and encourages calm and controlled breathing patterns.
  • Reduced Tendency to Over-breathe: This exercise improves the tolerance of CO2 levels in the blood and therefore reduces the tendency to unconsciously over-breathe.
  • Respiratory Efficiency: By incorporating breath holds into walking, you can improve respiratory function and the efficiency of oxygen utilisation.
  • Stress Reduction: The combination of gentle walking and breath holds can have a calming and relaxing effect, reducing stress and promoting overall well-being.

Safety precautions

  • Gentle Approach: Practice Walking with Breath Holds gently without any force or strain. Avoid stressful breath holds or excessive discomfort.
  • Certified Instruction: If you are new to the Buteyko Breathing Method or have any respiratory conditions, consider learning the technique from a qualified Buteyko instructor who can provide proper guidance and support.
  • Individual Adaptation: Individual responses to the exercise may vary. If you feel lightheaded or uncomfortable, take a break and resume normal breathing.

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