Yet another gender inequity has emerged, and frankly, this one leaves us literally breathless.

Healthy women experience greater incidence of shortness of breath than their male counterparts. This is due to the fact that women’s lungs are biologically smaller, and their airways are narrower, with weaker breathing muscles than men’s. These muscles need to be activated more aggressively in order to move air in and out of the lungs. Basically, women need to work harder just to breathe than men do! While this is not apparent in day to day activity, it is more obvious when we workout.

While the biological facts remain, there are a few things women can do to breathe a little easier at the gym:

Interval training can be a work out for your respiratory system, as well as the fastest ticket to fit. Add a few high intensity intervals to your next cardio session for the best benefits.

Practice Pilates breathing, which focuses on breathing in through your nose, and out through your mouth. This activates your diaphragm and brings consciousness to your breath.

Drink up! Staying hydrated keeps the airways from feeling dry.

The good news: reaching our anaerobic threshold though intense exercise promotes strength, speed and power. Go all out and let yourself become breathless during short intervals, to increase your fitness level.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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