Return to Good Health column: Benefits of oxygen therapy
Have you ever noticed the uneasy feeling you get when traveling from a lower elevations to higher elevations? Or, have you experienced such things as less energy, more fatigue, restless sleep and, not to mention, increase severity of hangover symptoms?
The reason for this is the body struggles when there is decreased oxygen within the blood stream. When there is less oxygen to breath in, the body starts compensating by slowing systems down which often leads to the symptoms mentioned above. When dehydration is thrown into the mix, it can make symptoms considerably worse.
Insomnia, poor digestion, foggy brain and fatigue are just some of the symptoms that can be improved with oxygen therapy. Oxygen levels at high altitudes can be 30 percent less than what are found around sea level, which can land many vacationers in the ER.
For those of us who love living in the Rocky Mountains or those who love visiting the mountains, adding oxygen to your routine can be extremely beneficial. Along with lessening the symptoms from altitude sickness, oxygen therapy also increases circulation and speeds up metabolism which can result in weight loss. Our cells use oxygen as fuel, and when they aren’t getting enough of it they send signals to the brain that they are in need of nourishment. Since our energy sources are comprised of oxygen and food, we feel less hungry when we are taking in more oxygen.
Increased oxygen intake through oxygen therapy can also help to lift your mood by shifting the chemical balance that alters our mood the same way that exercise does (because of the increased oxygen intake). When breathing in highly oxygenated air, our bodies are exposed to less carbon dioxide, and with less carbon dioxide the body experiences less anxiety which helps to improve your mood.
While oxygen plays a very important role in all kinds of recovery, quicker hangover recovery can also be achieved through oxygen therapy. When alcohol is ingested, it is broken down into water and carbon dioxide. It takes three oxygen molecules to break down one molecule of alcohol, so curing your nasty hangover can be as easy as a visit to the oxygen bar in order to increase your oxygen intake and break down the alcohol molecules faster.
Oxygen bars have become increasingly popular around the country, but in all seriousness they can be beneficial to relieving some symptoms that are hindering you enjoying the mountain life.
Cathy Lee is the owner of 180° Wellness and Midland Fitness in Glenwood Springs.