Breath of Life
"Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live." Ezekiel 37:5
Is there anything like going out to the countryside and inhaling a lung-full of fresh clean air? You can feel the oxygen coursing through your blood and invigorating your body and mind. Breathing is something we take for granted, but we cannot go for long without oxygen.In 1976, French diver Jacques Mayol made the free diving record of 325 feet (99 meters), holding his breath for three minutes, thirty-nine seconds. This was done only after years of training and is by far the exception of the limit of the human body, rather than the rule. Most people lose consciousness after only one or two minutes and without oxygen will die a few minutes later.
Every cell in your body requires a continuous supply of oxygen. Your respiratory and cardiovascular systems work in tandem to provide each cell with oxygen and eliminate excess carbon dioxide. The body was perfectly designed to perform this function and failure by either system causes death. Through the normal process of quiet breathing we inhale about 500 ml (half a quart) of air. When we deep breathe we can increase this amount by about 3100 ml (3+ quarts).1
Yet the air we breathe often contains far more than the elements we require for life. The Industrial Revolution, which began in the late 18th century, changed our air forever, and not in a positive way. Not until the late 20th century did governments start to regulate air pollution, which has helped reduce toxins in our atmosphere, but so far it hasn't been enough. In 1990, United States industry alone emitted more than 2.4 billion pounds of toxic pollutants into the air.2 What does this mean to our health? 50,000 to 120,000 premature deaths in the U.S. have been related to exposure to air pollutants.3 Air pollution is not limited to the out-of-doors but also occurs indoors with exposure to paint fumes, housecleaning solvents, fumes from carpeting, etc.
What can you do to limit your exposure to pollutants and get as much life-giving pure air as possible? One major change that is highly encouraged is a move to the country where air is often significantly cleaner and less saturated with toxins than city air. Where moving is not a possibility, individuals and families should retreat to the country as often as they can.
"Let several families living in a city or village unite and leave the occupations which have taxed them physically and mentally, and make an excursion into the country, to the side of a fine lake, or to a nice grove where the scenery of nature is beautiful. They should provide themselves with plain, hygienic food, the very best fruits and grains, and spread their table under the shade of some tree or under the canopy of heaven. The ride, the exercise, and the scenery will quicken the appetite, and they can enjoy a repast which kings might envy.4"
Also important for air health is making sure you reduce the amount of chemicals used in your home and workshop and maintain adequate ventilation whenever chemicals are used. Open your home to the outside air whenever possible, especially in the bedroom when you sleep. Invest in a high-quality air purifier, and if the air is dry in your area, a humidifier would also be recommended.
Practice breathing exercises. In a relaxing environment, preferably in fresh outside air, take several breaths, inspiring as deeply as possible. Hold for a few seconds then slowly release. Think about your posture. Breathing power should come from your diaphragm and abdominal muscles. Poor posture contributes to less effective muscle contractions and the lungs cannot reach their optimum capacity.
Pure air is necessary to life and must be pursued for optimal health. Think about your environment and how you can improve your chances of breathing pure, clean air and energize your body and mind.
Written by Sheryle Beaudry, RN,C, BSN -Copyright © 2000
1 Principles of Anatomy and Physiology, Gerard J. Tortora and Nicholas P. Anagnostakos, Harper &amp;amp;amp;amp; Row, New York, 1990, 707
2 Air Pollution and Respiratory Health, CDC's National Center for Environmental Health, 1999
4 The Adventist Home, E.G. White, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Hagerstown, Maryland, 1952, 502