Every parent has become increasingly aware of the need for good nutrition, good exercise and a supportive home and school environment for the health and wellbeing of their children. The government campaigns have advised “five a day” and more sport in schools but as yet there has been no recognition of the equally vital matter of good breathing for good health. Poor breathing has been the hidden, silent factor responsible for many childhood health problems that can lay the foundation for a wide range of modern diseases in later life.

Here is another “five a day” recommendation to help your child:

1. Ensure your child is a good breather.
A simple test is the “Step exercise” : Get your child to take a normal breath in then a normal breath out, then while they hold their nose see how many steps they can do, keeping their mouth closed before they need to release their nose to take another breath.
This is a simple measure of how well oxygenated their body is:
100 to 80 steps indicates excellent breathing
60 to 80 steps is very good
40 to 60 steps is good
30 to 40 steps is poor and may be impairing their heath
20 to 30 steps is very poor with almost certain adverse effect on their health
Fewer than 20 steps is a dangerously low result and efforts should be made to correct this.

Older children may be able to measure their breathing with a “Control Pause”
Keeping their mouth closed, take a normal breath in then a normal breath out and see how many seconds they can hold their nose for before taking another breath in. This exercise should be easy and stress free, it is a measure of their maximum COMFORTABLE breath hold.
45 to 60 seconds Excellent, 35 to 45 Very good, 25 to 35 Good, 20 to 25 Poor,
15 to 20 Very poor, 10 to 15 Seriously poor and Under 10 suggests an urgent need to correct this.

2. Help teach better breathing habits.
Encourage quiet nose breathing all the time. Set an example by improving your own breathing.

3. Watch for signs of bad breathing habits.
Mouth breathing, upper chest breathing, breathlessness, snoring at night.

4. Encourage relaxation and quiet when stressed.
Teach quiet relaxation, breathing as gently as possible with all the body relaxed.

5. Tell them why they need a nose & how to make it work well.
The nose is for breathing & the mouth is for eating and talking.
“They should breathe through their mouth as often as they eat through nose!”
Teach nose-clearing exercise: Breathe in then out through the nose, keep the mouth closed, hold the nose, gently nod the head until they need to breathe in, release the nose and take a breathe in. Repeat two or three times.