While it might be pretty straightforward to tell if someone is breathing, knowing what their breath rate is can be a little more difficult. The thing with trying to count breaths per minute (bpm) is that we’re usually super distracted and probably already counting the minutes until we’re done counting the breaths. Not so easy!
Here are some tips on how to monitor breathing rate.
Use a Metronome
Find a metronome app on your phone, computer, or use a regular one from the store and set it anywhere between 40-60 bpm (beats per minute). When you hear each click/tone, try to match your breath to the metronome. If you’re a musician, this might be a cinch! If not – no biggie! What’s great about using a metronome is that it will help give you a consistent bpm.
Count Your Breath For One Minute Inhale and exhale normally for one minute, paying attention to your breath. Don’t try to control it – just notice the natural inhales and exhales. Count how many breaths you took in that time and divide by 60 (minutes) for beats per minute.
Take a One Minute Breath Cycle Test You can do this test seated or lying down – whichever is more comfortable.
Use A Breathing Rate Monitor
Using a breathing rate monitor can be helpful, but it is important to know that they are not always 100% accurate; they typically give pulse rather than respiratory rates (breaths per minute). There are ways to adjust the numbers though if you don’t like what it’s giving you.
Use A Pulse Oximeter
A pulse oximeter is a device that measures your heart rate and can also give you an accurate respiratory rate, but it’s usually used by doctors or nurses in the hospital setting. In order for it to work, your hands need to be placed on the device which makes it a little harder to use in different situations when it may be helpful to determine your breath rate.
Take an Average Inhale and exhale normally for a minute or two, paying close attention to how many breaths you take in that time.
For example, if you counted 25 inhales and 27 exhales- there were 2 more exhales than inhales. That would equal a breath rate of roughly 2 bpm.
Count Your Breath for 10-15 Minutes
A good starting point is to count your breaths over a 15 minute time period or so, and then take an average of that number. This is helpful because the numbers may fluctuate throughout the day. That’s why it is best to count over a longer time period, perhaps right before you go to bed at night or in the morning when you first wake up.
Count Every Other Breath This option may be harder because it doesn’t allow for an automatic calculation of breaths per minute. But if your breath rates vary a lot, this will give you a more accurate calculation.
Record Your Number This option is pretty straightforward and easy – just write down your number and take one of the steps above to measure it next time!
These are just a few of the ways that you can measure your breath rate. Monitoring your breathing on a regular basis is good for many reasons, but knowing your breath rate can tell you more about what’s going on in your body.