Due to the multiple health benefits of a well-oxygenated body, MaryRuth has always been a proponent of engaging in activities that help increase blood oxygen levels. She so strongly believes in the healing power of oxygen that, when she learned of her son Ethan’s diagnosis of hypotonia, she got access to a hyperbaric chamber to support his care.
Optimum oxygen levels are important for our bodies because they allow our tissues to get the oxygen they need in order to provide our body energy. This happens through a process called respiration which occurs in the mitochondria of our cells.1,2
Did you know?
Our bodies are amazing! They have ways to help us out in the instance that we aren’t getting enough oxygen, and some of these are required for parts of development,3 but ultimately, without enough oxygen, our body can’t continue on. Lack of oxygen can cause permanent damage to cells and tissues.3 So, we want to make sure that we’re keeping our oxygen at the proper levels for overall health.
There are three steps to how the body handles oxygen, and if there are issues in any step, the body may not get the oxygen that it needs to its tissues — examples include lack of oxygen in the air or respiratory illnesses. The steps are as follows: Oxygenation, involving the intake of oxygen through the lungs and into the blood; Oxygen Delivery, the rate at which the oxygen is taken from the lungs out to other parts of the body; and Oxygen Consumption, the rate that the oxygen is taken into the tissues and removed from the blood.2,4
Check out these natural steps to help increase your oxygen levels!
We’ve gathered 5 tips to help you increase your oxygen levels naturally!
The great part about these health tips is that they may help you in other ways as well, and we think they’re mostly enjoyable too - which makes it easier to accomplish all your goals!
Added Bonus: They can help pass the time during social distancing!
REMEMBER: If you think you may have a health challenge that prevents you from getting the oxygen you need, be sure to reach out to a health care provider so they can point you in the right direction. Our tips are meant to help individuals make the most of their environmental oxygen, but they are not meant to replace healthcare advice, oxygen therapy, or support low oxygen levels.
1. GET SOME FRESH AIR
Do you ever feel like you can breathe easier when your windows are open or you’re enjoying the outdoors? This could be due to the fact that indoor air may be much more polluted than outdoor air!5 ...and one reason that outdoor air may be better for us is because of our friends, the trees. Trees have an amazing ability to help us by removing a large amount of pollutants from the air.6 The less pollutants we inhale, and the cleaner our air, the better our chances of increasing our oxygen saturation to its optimum level.
It’s important to be sure to check on the air quality around you before you seek out your fresh air. If the air isn’t so fresh, think about getting an air filtration system for your home instead of exposing yourself to harmful smog.
2. INVITE SOME PLANTS INSIDE
Plants aren’t just your friends outside, they’re also great to have inside! Bringing a plant into your home can increase the oxygen available to you. But, keep in mind that the amount of oxygen provided by your houseplant won’t be dramatic. Where you may notice a more dramatic effect is in the air quality, as just like trees outside, plants inside have the ability to remove toxins from the air.7 What your plant is able to assist with will depend on many factors such as the type of plant, it’s environment, it’s upkeep, and the pollutants in the air.
Depending on what you're looking to do with your plants — provide a little more oxygen or remove some chemicals from your immediate environment — there’s probably a plant (or many) available to suit your needs.
3. FOCUSED BREATHING EXERCISES
A study focusing on the effects of a controlled breathing rate suggests that slower breathing rates increased the oxygen saturation rates of not only their study participants with a particular health challenge, but also their healthy control group.8 The authors suggest that deeper and slower breathing, involving more use of the diaphragm is useful during the lower breathing rates. Interestingly, the lower breathing rate that they found to be most reasonable and beneficial is similar to the breathing rate of those who meditate or practice Hata yoga.
As this study was completed for those with a specific health challenge, it is meant only as a starting point to give you an idea of how controlled breathing has been shown to have benefits. Please be sure to discuss with your doctor or respiratory therapist what benefits you may be able to gain from breathing exercises and which exercises are best for you.
4. KEEP YOUR LUNGS HEALTHY!
We’re so used to breathing all the time, it may be easy to forget that we have some pretty complex things going on in our bodies that allow the oxygen we take in to have an effect on us. A key part of this process involves our lungs! The lungs allow the gas exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide while the blood is the transport system for these gases.9 Because of this, it’s important to maintain the health of your lungs so you can have the best chance to get the oxygen your body needs.
Keeping your lungs healthy is something that you can work on every day. Some ways to do this include: not smoking (or quitting), avoiding indoor and outdoor pollution, preventing infection, exercising, and getting regular check-ups with a healthcare provider.10 Always be sure to speak with your healthcare provider should you have any questions on what kind or how much exercise you should undertake.
5. STAY HYDRATED
Just like our lungs need to stay healthy to give our best chance at great oxygenation, we need to make sure to stay hydrated to ensure that we maintain a healthy blood volume.11 Our bodies function best at a specific blood volume that allows for a proper blood pressure level — it’s this blood pressure that gets the oxygenated blood to each part of the body. If our blood pressure is too low, which can occur in some cases of dehydration, the oxygen in the blood may not be able to reach each part of our bodies.12
As you probably already know, making sure you’re properly hydrated is a great step toward maintaining your health. If you have questions about exactly how much water you need, MaryRuth suggests drinking half your body weight in ounces of water per day. If you find yourself with a health challenge or you would like more information, you may want to speak with your doctor to ensure that you’re getting the proper hydration, not too much and not too little, for your body.
I hope these help you in your daily health journey!
References:12 Physiology, Blood Volume - StatPearls