Breathing is essential in our lives but not most of us are doing it right. Learn inhalation and exhalation tips to achieve optimal breathing benefits.
Breathing is essential to life because it’s the mechanism that allows oxygen, which is necessary for life, to enter our body. That said, it is important to know how to breathe correctly to achieve optimal function and performance, especially during exercise. In fact, inhalation and exhalation have a tremendous impact on the quality of your exercise.
Breathing is an automatic process but regularly we are not aware of how we are doing it. However, it’s important that you are mindful of your breathing especially during exercise or even during anxiety attacks, stress, asthma and other conditions.
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- Importance of Proper Breathing
- Inhalation and Exhalation: How To Breathe Properly
Importance of Proper Breathing
Proper breathing is essential to good health because it provides us the oxygen necessary for certain bodily functions. In an exercise, it helps maintain healthy oxygen levels thus preventing us from losing energy. But aside from that, it also has some other benefits:
Body Posture Improvement
When you breathe accurately, your chest expands and helps keep your back straight. Hence, it is essential for most exercises because it keeps your back in line.
It Improves Physical and Mental Performance
When we breathe, our body takes in oxygen which is vital for cells, tissues, and organs to function. The oxygen is distributed throughout the body, including the muscles thus giving it more power to exert. Moreover, this effect applies not only to those who exercise but everyone in general.
The more oxygen we breathe in, the more oxygen your body has to use for other bodily functions.
- Aside from physical performance, it also promotes mental performance such as focus and concentration
Strengthen Cardiovascular System
During inhalation and exhalation, your heart and lungs are being practiced along with each of every breath.
- As follows, your physical and mental performance will also be improved
It Aids In Weight Loss
Essentially, the body needs water and oxygen to convert fat into energy. The more you take in, the more your body can get free stored water, toxins and fat.
- That in turn, results in weight loss
Proper breathing fuels the process, therefore hastening the weight loss more efficiently.
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Lower pain levels
- Lower blood pressure
- Improve bowel function
- Strengthens immune system
One the other hand, when your body doesn’t get enough oxygen, it could cause the following:
- Chest pain
- Mental fog
- Irritable bowel and digestive problems
Inhalation and Exhalation: How To Breathe Properly
One of the most important aspects of exercises, whether it’s lifting, holding yoga poses, or doing a cardio workout, is breathing. Without proper breathing techniques, you won’t get the amount of oxygen needed and that sure will prevent you from getting the results you aim for.
Running and Cardio Exercises
As you are running, work on controlling your breath. Create a pattern such as inhaling every 3-4 steps, and exhaling for 3-4 steps.
Longer inhalations can help you breathe deeper, meaning you can take in more oxygen.
Along with proper form and tempo, you can reach your distance goals. If you find yourself feeling out of breath, consider decreasing the duration or intensity of the workout.
You can adjust the duration and intensity gradually and progressively. Your body will adapt and build up endurance and stamina.
- The same rule applies for other cardio workouts
You need to control your breathing and create a healthy rhythm to avoid getting winded too soon. However, with interval training, you can worry less about breathing technique because you have a recovery time.
You could be lifting weights at the gym or simply moving house furniture. Either way, the importance of proper breathing techniques when lifting weights goes beyond just improving performance.
It can help you avoid dizziness, high blood pressure, fatigue, and fainting. Besides, it lowers the risk of weight-room related injuries.
- Before you start with your weight lifting, do some breathing exercises. Inhale through your nose, hold it for one or two seconds then exhale through the mouth. Doing so for a few minutes sets the tempo for controlled breathing during your workout.
- Perform inhalation and exhalation each rep. Before lifting, inhale or breathe in. As you pick up the weight, breathe out or exhale.
- Begin with light weights if you are just starting to lift weights. Learn to control your breathing properly before moving up to heavier weights. If you have to hold your breath during a lift, it probably means that it is too heavy.
- As you progress to heavier weights, Valsalva maneuver is inevitable. Lifters are sometimes not aware they are doing it. It increases the support for the spine and decreases the risk of injury. However, it should still be done with caution because it enhances the risk for high blood pressure. That can result in fainting or even a heart attack.
In yoga, inhalation and exhalation regulates your state of mind, emotional state and your focus. The proper form is if you’re inhaling, you push the abdomen out. When exhaling, it should go back naturally.
There are two normal breaths in yoga: “Equal breathing” and “victorious breath.” With a regular breath, both inhale and exhale have equal lengths. It’s commonly used in natural poses. For more rigorous poses, you should use “victorious breath.”
As a general rule, inhale when bending backward or stretching and exhale when bending forward. The rest of the time and while holding your pose, you breathe as you normally would.
Other Breathing Tips
For regular activities, we don’t need to be as mindful of our breathing. As mentioned earlier, it is an automatic process so it happens even if we are unaware of it. However, knowing these techniques can still improve your breathing, thus enhance the quality of your health. For normal circumstances, use these proper breathing techniques for optimal breathing:
Breathe through your nose
The nose refines the air better than the mouth does because of the nasal hair that filters.
- When you breathe through your mouth, you are breathing unfiltered air that may contain bacteria and viruses
Breathe with your diaphragm
When you breathe, you are using muscles in the abdomen, your chest, neck, shoulders and the diaphragm. When you breathe with your diaphragm, your breath is sweet and deep. It allows your lungs to expand more and improves the gas exchange process.
Extend the exhale
- This action promotes relaxation and allows for a deeper inhalation
Be conscious of your body
Try to observe the rhythm of your breaths and the posture of your body. An upright posture allows for deeper breaths and gives the diaphragm more room for work.
Breathe as you normally would but observe whether your hand on the abdomen rises or not. If your abdomen rises and your chest stays relatively flat, your breathing is good.
- On the contrary, if it’s your chest that is rising but your abdomen barely moves, then you need to improve your breathing.
Breathing may be an automatic process, but you can still control a lot of it. The way you should breathe during exercise is not the same as the way you should breathe under normal conditions.
To such a degree, it’s critical to follow proper breathing techniques during normal activities and exercise in order to achieve optimum oxygenation in your body.