Breathing Techniques To Enhance Fitness And Health
When you exercise, your muscles need oxygen to enable them to perform at their best. This makes healthy breathing a key component of your workouts. However, it is not just in the gym that you need to focus on proper breathing techniques. Healthy breathing can help your body in other areas of your life as well.
Breathing Techniques While Exercising
When lifting weights or doing other resistance exercises, exhale during the difficult part of the exercise. For the most part, this will be during the lifting or pushing phase of the movement. When you exhale, your core tightens, giving you more stability and strength to power through the movement and to reduce your risk of injury. Inhale as you slowly release back to start, taking care to keep your core engaged.
When you are performing aerobic exercises, like running, try to time your breathing to the cadence of your movements, in this case, your steps. For example, breathe in for two steps and then out for two. By keeping your breath in rhythm, your bringing a steady flow of oxygen to your muscles to give them the strength to keep going.
At an easy pace, you should be able to breathe through your nose, which has the added benefit of filtering and warming the air before it reaches your lungs. However, at more strenuous levels of exertion, it is typically easier to breathe through your mouth to get maximum oxygen intake.
During stretching, your goal is to extend and elongate your muscles, so do the same with your breathing. Focus on breathing in deeply and letting the exhale follow naturally. With this healthy breathing technique, you slow your body down, which helps your muscles to relax. This allows you to get deeper stretches and helps to reduce your risk of strain from overstretching. Keep your breathing slow and steady throughout your stretching routine.
Your body needs to recover in between exercise sets, so practice this healthy breathing technique to get your muscles ready for their next challenge: Instead of breathing into your chest, focus on expanding your belly instead. By using your diaphragm to stretch your lungs, you body is able to take in more oxygen than if you were breathing normally. This helps to bring that oxygen to your muscles so that they can recover faster and you can get back to your workout.
Throughout the Day
At Your Desk
In today’s modern world of technology, more people than ever spend the bulk of their days hunched over a keyboard at their desks. On top of that, the fast pace of the business world leaves many workers stressed out throughout the day. Try to take short breaks from working about every hour to practice healthy breathing.
If you have a private office or don’t mind strange looks from your coworkers, lie on the floor with your legs up the wall and perform the diaphragm breathing technique from the recovery section, above. If lying on the floor isn’t an option, you can stay at your desk, but make sure that you sit up straight, pull your shoulders back and elongate your neck.
If you often have difficulty falling asleep, this healthy breathing technique may help you to relax more quickly. Start by inhaling through your nose as you count to four. Then, hold your breath and count to seven. Finally, exhale through your mouth as you count to eight. Repeat the cycle for four total breaths. Holding your breath gives your body the chance to absorb the maximum amount of oxygen, which contributes to relaxation.