What every fitness enthusiast should know.

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by Eugenia Malyshev, CBE 

In my observation, these days being athletic doesn’t equal being healthy anymore.

Staggering statistics shows –


Exercise-induced asthma has been diagnosed in as many as half of all elite cross-country skiers and almost as many world-class ice skaters and hockey players. It’s far more common in winter athletes than in those who compete in the summer, although nearly 17 percent of Olympic-level distance runners have been given the same diagnosis.                       And 

A U.S. study discovered signs of exercise-induced asthma in more than one-third of college athletes assessed for breathing problems. Researchers at Ohio State University Medical Center screened 107 Ohio State varsity athletes for exercise-induced asthma. Forty-two, or 39 percent, of the athletes tested positive, and 36 of those 42 athletes had no prior history of asthma.

Dr. John Douillard, in his famous book Body, Mind and Sports writes “A New England Study reported on the health and fitness of kids who were state-champion high school athletes. The top athletes were given a standard health-related physical fitness test… The results were surprising. Nearly all the 16-, 17-, and 18- year-old state champions failed. Despite their athletic prowess, they could not pass a health-oriented examination of fitness….There appears to be a large number of former professional athletes with chronic career-ending conditions, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, exercise induced asthma and bronchitis, and pneumonia. … When I had the opportunity spending a few weeks teaching in Russia, Dr Yuri Belous, the chairman of the former USSR Committee on Physical Culture and Sports, was lamenting the chronic illness of his country’s top athletes … The estimated lifespan of NFL football player is a shocking 56 years, 19 years below the national average…. More than 200,000 deaths are reported each year from heart attacks during or immediately after exercise ”

Another hard-to-ignore fact is a growing epidemic of “exhaustion” disorders, such as adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, fibromyalgia, and similar “fat folder” conditions. When such people share their experiences I was surprised at how many of them would say – I used to be highly energetic person, involved in various athletics, literally tireless. Then the downward spiral is set in motion, and the result is devastating – “run down” body, often unable to tolerate 5-10 min. walk, myriad of unexplained symptoms, such as persistent pains and aches, debilitating fatigue, poor concentration, insomnia, food intolerances, breathing problems, anxiety and more.

In my practice and in my community I witness people who are involved in athletics with strong conviction they are greatly contributing to their health, weight normalization and longevity. But what I often see is far from picture of health – I see highly stressed, chronic mouth- and chest-breathers. Many are developing poor exercise tolerance, continuously stuffed sinuses, breathlessness, anxiety, poor sleep, weight gain (despite exercise related calorie loss and good diet).

While we have no doubt that exercise is a vital component of human health, statistics of so many unhealthy athletes begs to recognize that not every exercise is beneficial. According to professor Buteyko’s theory, it is Exercise With Correct Breathing that can make all the difference in your health.

My Yoga instructor often says “Remember, your practice is always secondary to breathing. Yoga postures are secondary to breathing. Breathing always comes first.” She has no idea what a profound truth is hidden in those statements. Unfortunately, like many modern Yoga instructors, breathing techniques she suggests encourage hyperventilation instead of reducing it. Meanwhile, reducing chronic hyperventilation is a crucial factor for modern humans in order to get their health under control and to increase physical endurance.

I was really pleased with the opportunity to speak in front of the Minnesota School of Business and Globe College students, who are studying to be fitness trainers. Hopefully, it prompts them to rethink the concept of healthy exercise. Hopefully they’ll think like my Yoga instructor… only with Buteyko in mind.

The following recommendations are based on the seminars that I presented at Minnesota School of Business and Globe College. The Buteyko Method introductory seminars were given for a group of students studying to be fitness instructors (the course title is Exercise Prescription for Special Population). This information might be helpful whether you are a fitness or yoga instructor, or health club / fitness group participant, or a breathing disorder sufferer who needs to know the safest way to exercise to maximum capacity without triggering symptoms and aggravating your condition. Note, that following is not a full presentation and contains general guidelines only. For more info and individualized programs, contact the Buteyko Clinic, and find out about workshops and other services we offer.

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