Saturday, December 29, 2007


The Framingham study

The Framingham study focused on the long-term predictive power of vital capacity and forced exhalation volume as the primary markers for life span.
"This pulmonary function measurement appears to be an indicator of general health and vigor and literally a measure of living capacity". Wm B. Kannel and Helen Hubert.
These researchers were able to foretell how long a person was going to live by measuring forced exhalation breathing (flow rate) aka FEV1 and hypertension. We know that much of hypertension is controlled by the way we breathe.
"Long before a person becomes terminally ill, vital capacity can predict life span." William B. Kannel of Boston School of Medicine (1981) stated, "The Framingham examinations' predictive powers were as accurate over the 30-year period as were more recent exams." The study concluded that vital capacity falls 9 percent to 27 percent each decade depending on age, sex and the time the test is given. The study's shortcoming was in suggesting that vital capacity cannot be maintained and or increased, even in severe cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Any opera (not necessarily voice) teacher will support the idea that breathing volume can be increased. Yet activities such as singing or sports are no guarantee of optimal breathing. In fact, they can even invite breathing blocks from gasping, forcing the exhale and breath heaving. You don't have to learn how to sing to have a huge pair of lungs. But you DO need to know how to breathe. I maintain that if you train someone to breathe correctly, they will naturally know how to sing. I have never seen it fail.


Longevity and Breathing

Longevity and Breathing

One of my favorite birthday cards shows a picture of a “seeker” coming to the “top of the mountain” to ask the great sage and seer of all knowingness, “Oh great baba, what is the secret of long life?”

Inside the card, baba reveals, “Keep breathing as long as you can.”

On a slightly more serious note, studies show that there is a strong relationship between better breathing, fullness of life and longevity. In a study by a thoracic surgeon and psychologist Phil Neurenberger, all 152 heart attack victims had a serious breathing irregularity. Breathing in a less than optimal way can result in shortening of life span and or illness ranging from chronic nervousness to a slowly agonizing death.

Article concerning content of a National Institute of Aging meeting from Science News, vol.120, 1981 p.74

"Findings resulting from a 5,200 clinical study group observed over a 30 year span showed that pulmonary function measurement is an indicator of general health and vigor and literally the primary measure of potential life span.

The vital capacity falls with age – 9 percent to 27 percent each decade depending on sex and age at the time the test is given. the decline is clear both in cross-sectional data, comparing persons of different ages, and in cohort data, following a group of people as they grow older. The long term predictive power of vital capacity is what makes it a good candidate as a marker of aging.

Long before a person becomes terminally ill, vital capacity can predict life span. A person whose vital capacity is low is not going to do as well as someone whose is always high. It can pick out people who are going to die 10, 20, 30 years from now."

The National Institute of Aging is using rodents and primates for longevity studies. Because they are omnivorous mammals, showing aging patterns similar to human but about 30 times faster. Neither one of which has a similar enough lung structure to benefit from the same Optimal Breathing™ techniques available to humans.

I suggest you take more interest in your biological age instead of your chronological age. A physically active 45 years old can have the biological age of a 35 year old and an inactive 45 year old can have the biological age of a 55 -75 year old. Your breathing volume is a key factor in your biological age.

“At least ninety percent of our metabolic energy should come from our breathing.” – Dr. Gabriel Cousens

We can breathe, + or - due to lung and body size, approximately eight pounds of oxygen daily, eat four pounds of food and drink two pounds of water. The earth breathes; it expands and contracts about two feet. The body contains billions of cells. They need to breathe too. Sadly, most people breathe a fraction of full capability, and so do their cells.

If you do nothing to preserve even average breathing, you will by age 70 lose over 70% of what you had at age 20.(Framingham Study) You breathe 7,000 to 30,000 times a day. Dr. Gay Hendricks states that “a five percent increase in breathe-ability can work wonders”.

The less oxygen you take in the harder your heart has to work to gather oxygen for the body. When breathing becomes easier, the heart does not have to work as hard. When you try to breathe too quickly, as in a race or when you are frightened, you excite the nervous system and this excitation locks up the expansion potential of the muscles holding the rib cage together. This reduces the ability for the chest to easily expand and the lungs to take in extra oxygen easily.

When you “take a deep breath” you may well relax a little but you are actually stimulating your nervous system to restrict your breathing from its optimal potential. Most schools of exercise and breathing overlook the “ease” factor.

Much of longevity comes from "grace", from being in the flow. There is a naturally calming, breathing reflex that becomes eroded by forcing the breath too much or too often. Even world class athletes and woodwind players can develop asthma and other forms of restricted breathing. The “erosion” manifests in locked up breathing muscles and creates blocks in full and easy breathing. Difficulty breathing makes day to day living harder. Easier breathing makes everything in life richer and easier; including living longer.

Germs, viruses and bacteria are anaerobic; they cannot survive in a high oxygen environment. The stress of unbalanced breathing can break down the body’s resistance to disease by using up valuable oxygen needed for healthy metabolism as well as cause the vital organ system to overwork and become vulnerable to disease.

There are many hidden degrees of restricted breathing or what I call latent shortness of breath. Asthma and emphysema are easy to spot. But asthma and emphysema don’t just suddenly enter your body. They often take years to develop. Some of the signs of restricted breathing are headaches, heart conditions, dizziness, hyperventilation, sighing, memory loss, yawning, chronic depression, apathy, tension or restriction felt across chest or abdomen, slouched posture, hoarseness, low and or mid back pain, raspiness, and a thin or weak voice. There are many more.


Breathing has much more to do with life than taking in oxygen. Much of the nervous system responds to the way the breath is taken in. If you breathe a lot in your belly you stimulate a more relaxed response to everything you see hear and feel. If you breathe into the high chest you stimulate the organs and muscles of action. Balance is indispensable. Many breathe in an unbalanced and labored manner. To not breathe easy is to overstimulate the organs and muscles of action. Like keeping your foot on the accelerator day in and day out, and one foot on the brake. Your engine is constantly at a higher rev than needed. Type “A” personalities are good examples but many non types “A’s” have less obvious but still harmful or restricted breathing patterns.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


The Bobath Concept

The Bobath Concept is an important approach to rehabilitation in the care of patients with injuries to the brain or spinal cord. It is named after its inventors, Berta Bobath, a physiotherapist, and her husband Karel, a neurophysiologist.

It is based on the brain's ability to reorganize (Neuroplasticity), which means that healthy parts of the brain learn and take on the functions which were previously carried out by the damaged regions of the brain. The prerequisite for this is, however, a consequent support and stimulation of the patient on the part of the patient's caretakers. The concept has achieved good successes in rehabilitation, in particular in the case of people paralysed on one side (hemiplegic) after a stroke.

Hemiplegics often tend to neglect their paralysed side, and therefore their limitations, in order to compensate with their less affected side. Such single-sided movements, however, only help the patient in a basic way, since the affected side is not given the ability to receive and work with new information. The brain therefore does not have the opportunity to restructure itself. Instead because of the asymmetric movements, there is still the danger of developing painful spasms.

The main principle of the Bobath Concept is, on the other hand, to support the affected side of the body as much as is necessary to bring its movements into accord with the less affected side of the body.

In the United States the Bobath Concept is usually referred to as Neuro-Developmental Treatment.

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