Breathing is a process that we do naturally. One does not apply his mind to breathe. The respiration is controlled by nerve cells in the reticular formation of the brain stem. These cells send impulses to the diaphragm and to the muscles through the nerves.
Air is drawn in to the body with the contraction of the diaphragm. As the air passes through the nasal passage to the lungs, the chest expands in three directions making way for lungs to expand with air rushing into the body as the air pressure in the lungs is lower than the atmospheric pressure.
The respiration rate is usually measured when a person is at rest. It involves the counting the number of breaths in one minute by counting how many times the chest rises. The respiratory rate is known to increase with fever or illness or any other medical condition. If the individual has any difficulty in breathing, that is to be noted. The value of respiratory rate as an indicator has limited value.
A trained systematic method of deep breathing is known to lower respiration rates in cardiac patients and it helps them to maintain blood oxygen levels that are healthy. Average respiratory range by age is given below:
- Newborns – Average 44 breaths per minute
- Infants – 20-40 breaths per minute
- Pre school children – 20-30 breaths per minute
- Older children – 16-25 breaths per minute
- Adults – 12-20 breaths per minute
- Adults during strenuous exercise – 35-45 breaths per minute
- Athletes peak – 60-70 breaths per minute
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