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Breath Work Influence on Sports Performance - A Summary from The Sports Psychology World Conference

The Breathing techniques that were spoken about were

  1. Slow-Paced Breathing; (less than 10 cycles/min)

  2. Breath-Holding; cessation of breathing

  3. Fast-Paced Breathing; more than 20 cycles per minute

  4. Alternative Nostril breathing; breathing one or both nostrils alternatively;y

  5. Hyperventilation; reduction in partial carbon dioxide pressure through deep breathing at fast/normal frequency.

1. Slow-Paced Breathing

Breathing frequency below 10 cycles per minute

  • Decrease depression, anxiety and anger

  • Improves sleep quality

  • Emotional well-being

  • Cognitive function

(russo et al., 2017, Zaccaro et, al, 2018, Lehrer et al, 2020)

2. Breath Holding

  • Increases respiratory function

  • Modulates pain sensitivity

  • It may also decrease nasal resistance, resulting in physiological and respiratory adaptions

Fast-Paced Breathing

Breathing frequency above 20 cycles per minute

  • Influences perceive stress, anxiety and attentional processes

  • Constitutes a part of yogic practices eg 'Breath of Fire'

  • Reduces the BMI and abdominal skin fold thickness

Alternate and Uni-Nostril Breathing

Alternating between right and left nostril breathing/breathing through one nostril

  • Targets specific cognitive and perceptive effects

  • Right nostril breathing; sympathetic nervous system activation

  • Left nostril breathing; parasympathetic nervous system relaxation

  • Alternate- nostril breathing; balances out autonomic nervous system functioning


Voluntary deep breathing at either a normal or fast breathing frequency

  • Delays urge to breathe

  • Delays fatigue levels - enhanced anaerobic energy supply & improved muscle functioning

For more information about breathing and its effects and the researchers

Nina Zammit

Masa Iskra

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