Breathing Rate During Different Activities

By Kevin Owen

Your breathing rate, which is medically referred to as your respiratory rate, is the number of breaths you take each minute. A person's breathing rate varies by the amount of their physical exertion. Generally, a breathing rate while at rest is much slower than during intense physical activity. Breathing rate can vary according to your overall health, physical fitness and the geographic altitude.

Resting Breathing Rate

While at rest, defined as a period with little physical activity, a person's breathing rate should be between 10 and 14 breathes per minute. Additionally, a normal person's breathing rate at rest should not require more than five deep breathes. Breathing while resting should be painless and comfortable.

Breathing Rates While Running

While everyone's breathing rate will vary according to their body type, age, sex and weight, experts have calculated an optimal breathing rate for athletic running. The U.S. military recommends three steps for every inhalation and two steps for every exhalation while running. This is purported to reduce fatigue and increase endurance.

Breathing Rates While Swimming

Swimming is a unique activity as water inhibits breathing whenever a swimmer desires. Rather, a freestyle swimmer must take a breath at every stroke, or more commonly during every other stroke. Therefore, the respiratory rate for swimming is 18 to 28 breathes per minute.

Breathing Rates for Children

Infants and small children have faster breathing rates than for teenagers and adults. From birth until one year old, a baby will have a breathing rate of 30 to 60 breathes per minute while at rest, whereas a three-year-old toddler's breathing rate is 20 percent less at 24 to 40 breathes per minute while at rest. By the time a child reaches school age at six years old, their breathing rate drops to 18 to 30 breathes per minute.

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