Breathing Affects Cognition

Respiratory trainer

We have known for a long time that tobacco smoke does a real number on the lungs. It contains 4,000 different chemical compounds, many of which are poisonous, and 50 of which are known cancer causing agents. As well, there are approximately 3,000 deaths annually that can be attributed to the effects of second hand smoke. What we have not understood until recently, however, is the extent to which better breathing practices improve the constitution of both smokers and non smokers.

Western Medicine is catching up to something practitioners of alternative and complimentary medicine have know for a long time. Better breathing techniques can make a real difference in health and wellness. Stress relief breathing and breathing therapy have been shown in various studies to help several aspects of well being, especially cognition.

30 college students, none of whom were yoga practitioners, were recruited for a small study in which they had to do 20 minutes of yoga each day. The results of the study showed that the women performed better on cognitive tests after having practices yoga than they did after running on a treadmill. This illustrates how doing exercises to improve breathing such as yoga can oxygenate body and brain to improve thinking skills even as those exercises result in better breathing long term.

In contrast, 45 percent of women with sleep disordered breathing had problems ranging from mild cognitive impairment to dementia. This is in comparison to 31 percent of the women who slept normally. Better breathing, even while being asleep, affects cognition, both short and long term. That is why it is so important to regularly do exercises such as yoga for better breathing capabilities. For more information see this.


  1. To go along with that, I read that there was a study done on sleep and that poor sleep habits and sleep apnea negatively impact IQ.

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