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The Average Breathing Rate After Exercise

By Dr. Amora Rachelle

The respiratory system controls your breathing, providing oxygen to your body and eliminating carbon dioxide. Exercise causes muscle movement, increasing carbon dioxide in your body and resulting in an increased respiratory rate -- the frequency of breaths per minute -- to eliminate it from your bloodstream.

Average Resting Respiratory Rate

Normal respiration rate, which we all experience throughout the day, is a passive process controlled by the respiratory system, located in the medulla oblongata of the brain. This normal respiration rate remains constant most the day, but with the initiation of exercise, there is a dramatic change. The resting breathing rate is dependent on age, sex, size, health and lung capacity.

Average Respiratory Rate During Exercise

Respiration rate during exercise depends on several factors, including level of activity, altitude, lung capacity and health. Higher levels of activity and altitudes increase respiration rate. Good health and larger lung capacity typically decrease it. The mechanism at play is the release of epinephrine during exercise, increasing the body's temperature, causing an increased need to breathe more.

Breathing Rate Post Exercise

After exercise has stopped, extra oxygen is required to metabolize the built-up lactic acid and to replace any oxygen that has been borrowed from the muscle fibers, air in the lungs and body fluids. To cure this oxygen debt, labored breathing continues after exercise to regain oxygen and to restore homeostasis in the body.

Calculate Your Average Breathing Rate

Your breathing rate and amount of time it takes to restore the body after exercise depends on the individual and the quantity of carbon dioxide in the blood. Once homeostasis is achieved, breathing rate will return to normal rate. To find your average breathing rate, count the number of breaths you take per minute while resting, exercising and post-exercise five times, then add the numbers together per activity and divide by five to get your average.

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