- Around 60,000 people in Twente have a dysfunctional breathing pattern which causes all kinds of health problems;
- Breath in Balanz developed an app and a sensor that helps people with developing a better breathing pattern.
“Breath Balanz”, developed by Breath in Balanz, consists of a sensor that you wear in a belt just above your navel and an app on your phone. This “breathing, coaching and feedback system” helps people that suffer from a dysfunctional breathing pattern with developing a better one. You have a dysfunctional breathing pattern if you take breaths too often and if you breathe with your chest instead of your abdomen. Breathing around 6 to 12 times per minute is enough. Breathing between 20 and 25 times per minute will demand a lot from your body, and it will become overburdened. A dysfunctional breathing pattern is often the result of stress, tension and panic. It can, however, also be caused by COPD, Asthma or a thyroid disorder.
The app gives you access to a training schedule with exercises that you perform twice a day; in the morning and evening. The difficulty of these exercises is increased every week so that your diaphragm becomes stronger and your breathing frequency decreases. You wear the sensor once a week so that you can see a trend in the app after a few weeks. The training schedule is based on practical experiences from Nellie Bontekoe and Sonja Nijhuis, who have both been breathing coaches for 15 years.
“Breathing comes naturally, so it is an eye-opener for many that it can be disturbed”, says Nellie. It is also important that exercising is limited to twice a day, precisely because it is an unconscious process. If you watch your breathing all day, you will be doing something that your body does not like. It is a muscle that needs to be trained, and it can become overburdened. Nellie Bontekoe from Breath in Balanz explains this: “A professional footballer will also train on the field once or twice a day. He does not kick a ball around the house all day; this could give him cramps. It is the same for your breathing.”
One in six ambulances goes to people who think they have heart problems, without that being the case. Breath Balanz could help reduce the number of ambulance trips that happen unnecessarily, according to Nellie and Sonja, because palpitations are often the result of dysfunctional breathing. This would also have a significant social impact due to the sharp reduction in healthcare costs and better well-being in general. It is currently estimated that between 600,000 and 800,000 people in the Netherlands suffer from a dysfunctional breathing pattern. Many of these health problems could be addressed through training and without the use of medicine.
Neck and shoulder complaints are common symptoms of a dysfunctional breathing pattern, in addition to palpitations. Countless people having these complaints see a doctor or physiotherapist regularly, without a clear cause being discovered. It is, therefore, very important to be aware of how impactful breathing can be for your well-being. Breath in Balanz hopes to accomplish this using a questionnaire with symptoms, which can be filled in on their website. This can then be discussed with a doctor. For example, people who suffer from dizziness may think that something is wrong with their brain, causing them to visit a neurologist, while the actual problem lies with their breathing. Many people end up in the vicious circle of healthcare in this way, where it is not discovered (in time) what the real cause is. This, of course, also causes a lot of “wasted” healthcare costs. These complaints also often lead to absenteeism, which, of course, has negative economic and social consequences.