It all started with a simple and innocent question: what is breathing and is it different from respiration? We answered the question, which led us to our first follow-up question, how do other systems of the body contribute to and/or affect respiration? This, naturally, led to the second follow-up question: how is this information practical and/or useful to me? Well, if I can control my rate of breathing, this may be a good (or bad) thing. For instance, when I need to calm down, I can take deeper, slower breaths to breathe easy. On the flip side, when I need to speed up, I can huff and puff. This knowledge is useful in training because respiration can affect metabolism. Of course, the opposite is also true as the metabolic state can affect respiration. So the chicken or the egg, fight or digest?

Since the process of respiration includes internal processes (i.e., internal transport of blood), I know that I need to keep my cardiovascular system (heart, arteries, blood, etc.) healthy. After all, it’s pumping blood and aiding in respiration (among other duties!). So the question begs, what do I need to do to keep my cardiovascular system healthy? The American Medical Association offers tips for heart health and the American Heart Association recommends physical activity. Both associations, as well as every other medical tradition (ever), also stress diet in keeping the heart functioning in optimal order. So, understanding the chemicals, elements, compounds for healthy cellular function is paramount.

Lastly, it’s good to become familiar with the most important thing you do daily. And, in the future, if you take some sort of physically oriented class (anything physical), when the teacher says breathe, you aren’t confused that the teacher wants you to stimulate your mitochondria or increase the efficacy of your ATP reactions or willfully dilate the apertures in your alveoli. Cause if you could do that, then do you really need to take classes…?