Get Fit Quick

One of the most popular New Year resolutions is to get fitter and healthier, quickly. But staying fit and healthy is more difficult. However the latest trend for HIIT can help. HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. It will help you get fit quick. Doctor Michael Mosley tried out HIIT for himself in the acclaimed BBC TV series, Trust Me I’m a Doctor. He believes you can get the benefits of exercise in just a few minutes a week.  But it is an extremely intense workout.

It is advised that you consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before undertaking any form of exercise.

Here are our tips for getting fit quick

  1. Perform HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts – ensure you warm up for two minutes beforehand.
  2. Workout with a friend – you’ll not want to let them down (and vice versa).
  3. Pick something you love – you’re more likely to want to do it on the days you feel less inclined to exercise.
  4. Use an activity monitor – they’ll help you reach your goals by keeping you motivated, as they track and log your activity.
  5. Train your breathing muscles. Really? Yes, breathing training improves strength and stamina, reducing fatigue, which in turn makes exercise feel easier.

What is breathing training?

Your breathing muscles, just like any other muscle, will adapt and get stronger if you exercise them. To do this, you need to expose your breathing to a training stimulus. In addition, it must of sufficient duration or with sufficient frequency for the breathing muscles to experience a full training adaptation. Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT), such as the POWERbreathe breathing training device, is ideal for this. IMT targets the breathing muscles, specifically the muscles you use to breathe in.

Breathing exercises and techniques

To get the most from your inspiratory muscle training you need to ensure that you’re using the device properly. Firstly, ensure you are breathing IN through the device. IN for INspiratory.  It’s the inspiratory muscles that play a vital role in the efficiency of breathing at rest and also during exercise. Expiration, however, is normally passive  and only during heavy exercise workloads does it become forced.

Tips for using POWERbreathe during exercise

  1. Ensure you first have a good POWERbreathe breathing technique.
  2. Perform your exercise firstly without your POWERbreathe device. Then perform the exercise with your POWERbreathe device set to the lowest setting (load).
  3. As you continue to perform your workout, gradually increase the load on your POWERbreathe device over a period of the next few weeks.
  4. You can also incorporate a breathing training station into interval training, drills and circuits, or during the recovery phase.

Effects of work of breathing on blood flow during exercise

Published in Experimental Physiology this research sought to simultaneously assess leg and respiratory muscle blood flow during intense exercise while manipulating the work of breathing (WOB).

Researchers from Canada & Brazil hypothesised:

  1. Increasing the work of breathing would increase respiratory muscle blood flow and decrease leg blood flow.
  2. Decreasing the work of breathing would decrease respiratory muscle blood flow and increase leg blood flow.

The work of breathing (WOB)

Changes in work of breathing are significantly and positively related to changes in respiratory muscle blood flow. By which it shows that increasing the work of breathing increases blood flow.

On the other hand, changes in work of breathing are inversely related to changes in locomotor blood flow. So decreasing the work of breathing increases locomotor blood flow.

Study findings

Therefore findings from the study support the concept that respiratory muscle work significantly influences the distribution of blood flow to both respiratory and locomotor muscles.

The study

Effects of respiratory muscle work on respiratory and locomotor blood flow during exercise >

Athletes Do Not Condition Inspired Air More Effectively than Non-athletes

There is a study that aims to assess athletes’ ability to warm and humidify inspired air. This study is published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. It is called, Athletes do not condition inspired air more effectively than non-athletes during hyperpnea.

Endurance athletes’ inspired air

Airway disease is more prevalent in endurance athletes. This is possible because they need to adapt their breathing to cope with large volumes of inspired air. And they need to inspire large volumes of air because of the intense exercise they perform. But the environment they train in may also be relevant.

Study method

The study measures the difference between each athlete’s inhaled and exhaled air temperature. It did this during and after a Eucapnic Voluntary Hyperpnea test (EVH). This is the test that is used to diagnose exercise-induced asthma or exercise-induced bronchospasm. It is a 6 minute test during which the athlete breathes a cold, dry gas at very high ventilation rates.

All 23 athletes in the study attend a laboratory on three occasions. Two of these occasions are for baseline measurements and information. The third is to perform a modified EVH test. This is to measure their inspired and expired air temperatures.

No evidence of improved capacity to condition inspired air

The test results show no evidence of improved capacity to condition inspired air. And by ‘conditioned’ air the study means the athlete’s ability to warm and humidify inspired air. If the study did find evidence, this could suggest an increased bronchial blood flow or another adaptive mechanism. Bronchial blood flow supplies nutrients and oxygen to the cells that constitute the lungs, as well as carrying waste products away from them. Therefore the absence of an adaptive mechanism could contribute to airway damage observed in endurance athletes. This may be that colder but mainly dryer air is penetrating deeper in the lung.

Strategies to reduce impact on airway injury

A pre-exercise warm-up is well known to reduce the severity of exercise-induced bronchospasm and exercise-induced asthma. It is thought the reason for this is because of an increase in bronchial blood flow. A warm-up involves performing the athlete’s activity at a slower pace and reduced intensity. It gradually raises the body temperature. Furthermore it increases blood flow to the muscles.

An inspiratory warm-up

It is also beneficial to warm-up the breathing muscles. A scientifically proven way of doing this is with Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT). POWERbreathe is an IMT device that is quick and easy to use. POWERbreathe IMT is performed as part of an athlete’s daily training. But research and trials have also shown it to be beneficial for an inspiratory warm-up. This means simply reducing the breathing load on the POWERbreathe IMT device to a lower setting. Better still the POWERbreathe K3, K4 and K5 with Breathe-Link Live Feedback Software feature an automatic warm-up mode. This automatically sets the optimal resistance for an inspiratory muscle warm-up.

Are athletes more susceptible to airway dysfunction?

The Study

Environmental influence on the prevalence and pattern of airway dysfunction in elite athletes‘. The purpose of this study recently published in ‘Respirology’ was to evaluate the prevalence of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB), often known as exercise-induced asthma, in elite Great British (GB) boxers and swimmers. This study was the first to screen the entire elite Great British (GB) Swimming and Boxing teams using a eucapnic voluntary hyperpnoea (EVH) challenge. Findings from the study support the notion that athletes who train and compete in provocative environments at sustained high ventilation have an increased susceptibility to airway dysfunction. Conclusion: “The prevalence of EIB was ninefold greater in swimmers when compared with boxers. Athletes who train and compete in provocative environments at sustained high ventilation may have an increased susceptibility to EIB. It is not entirely clear whether increased susceptibility to EIB affects elite sporting performance and long-term airway health in elite athletes.” In scientific tests, Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) has been shown to decrease dyspnea, increase inspiratory muscle strength, and improve exercise capacity in asthmatic individuals. POWERbreathe IMT is scientifically proven, effective, low-cost and a drug-free adjunct to traditional asthma treatments and can be used as part of an athlete’s daily training to reduce symptoms. Supportive Study Effect of Inspiratory Muscle Training on Exercise Tolerance in Asthmatic Individuals concluded that, “IMT attenuates inspiratory muscle fatigue, reduces the perception of dyspnea, and increases exercise tolerance. These findings suggest that IMT may be a helpful adjunct to asthma management that has the potential to improve participation and adherence to exercise training in this group.”

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Postural Activity Of The Diaphragm Is Reduced In Humans When Respiratory Demand Increases

“Respiratory activity of the diaphragm and other respiratory muscles is normally co-ordinated with their other functions, such as for postural control of the trunk when the limbs move. The integration may occur by summation of two inputs at the respiratory motoneurons. The present study investigated whether postural activity of the diaphragm changed when respiratory drive increased with hypercapnoea.” Conclusion: “The findings of the present study have implications for the organisation of postural and respiratory activities of ‘respiratory’ trunk muscles and suggest that stability of the spine may be compromised in situations in which respiratory demand is increased, such as exercise and respiratory disease. Although investigation of spinal mechanics is required to confirm the extent to which spinal control is compromised by the increase in respiratory demand, it is hypothesised that such a compromise may lead to increased potential for injury to spinal structures and reduced postural control. During strenuous exercise, when the physical stresses to the spine are greater, the physiological vulnerability of the spine to injury is likely to be increased.” Postural activity of the diaphragm is reduced in humans when respiratory demand increases >

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Screening For Cardiac And Respiratory Problems In Elite Sport

This article published in Expert Review of Respiratory Medicine discusses how the process of screening athletes for cardiac and respiratory anomalies presents a number of challenges. Conclusion: “Based on the current best available evidence, there is a strong case to argue that respiratory screening should be included in any comprehensive physiological screening /pre-participation assessment in athletes and integrated cardiorespiratory assessment is likely to be indicated in certain groups of high-risk athletes (e.g. elite-level endurance athletes). In the meantime, while we await further research to guide the optimal approach in this area, certainly affording athletes close medical attention to their cardiorespiratory health is the least a responsible clinician can offer.” The POWERbreathe K5 with Breathe-Link Live Feedback software offers clinicians, coaches and elite athletes themselves the opportunity to assess their own breathing parameters. Athletes can perform breathing training on the hand-held K5 device using its variable threshold resistance training to exercise their breathing muscles to improve strength and stamina and reduce fatigue. The Breathe-Link Live Feedback software provides real-time feedback on screen which can be analysed and assessed by the clinician or coach, providing essential feedback of respiratory history and for personalised training programmes. The K5 enables up to a maximum of 30 user profiles and 1200 stored sessions per user making it ideal for team use by the coach. Read Screening for cardiac and respiratory problems in elite sport – compare and contrast >

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Attenuated Inspiratory Muscle Metaboreflex In Endurance-Trained Individuals

“The inspiratory metaboreflex is activated during loaded breathing to task failure and induces sympathetic activation and peripheral vasoconstriction that may limit exercise performance. Inspiratory muscle training appears to attenuate the inspiratory metaboreflex in healthy subjects. Since whole body aerobic exercise training improves breathing endurance and inspiratory muscle strength, we hypothesized that endurance-trained individuals would demonstrate a blunted inspiratory muscle metaboreflex in comparison to sedentary individuals.”


“Data demonstrate that endurance-trained individuals have an attenuated inspiratory muscle metaboreflex.”

Read Attenuated inspiratory muscle metaboreflex in endurance-trained individuals >

BASES Expert Statement on Assessment and Management of Non-asthma Related Breathing Problems in Athletes

Produced on behalf of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES), Dr John Dickinson, Professor McConnell, Dr Emma Ross, Dr Peter Brown and Dr James Hull discuss the assessment and management of non-asthma related breathing problems reported by athletes, such as wheezing, tight chest, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, coughing and breathlessness.

Read BASES Expert Statement on Assessment and Management of Non-asthma Related Breathing Problems in Athletes >

Sex Differences In Intensity And Qualitative Dimensions Of Exertional Dyspnea In Physically Active Young Adults

“Understanding sex differences in the qualitative dimensions of exertional dyspnea may provide insight into why women are more affected by this symptom than men. This study explored the evolution of the qualitative dimensions of dyspnea in 70 healthy, young, physically active adults.”


“Findings suggest that men and women do not differ in their perceived quality of dyspnea during submaximal exercise, but subjective differences appear at maximal exercise and may be related, at least in part, to underlying sex differences in breathing patterns and operating lung volumes during exercise.”

Read Sex differences in the intensity and qualitative dimensions of exertional dyspnea in physically active young adults >

Do Fire-Fighters Develop Specific Ventilatory Responses In Order To Cope With Exercise

“In this study we compared the ventilatory performance whilst wearing self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) during exercise, of a group of male fire-fighters with a matched group of male civilians.”


“Data suggests that the respiratory responses of firefighters while wearing SCBA, which are characterised by increases in breathing frequency but not tidal volume, may help to reduce their breathlessness during exercise while wearing SCBA.”

Read Do fire-fighters develop specific ventilatory responses in order to cope with exercise whilst wearing self-contained breathing apparatus? >