Have you taken a breath in the last few seconds? Most likely you have since it is required for us to sustain life! Breathing is an automatic response of the body that allows for the absorption of oxygen during inhalation and expelling of carbon dioxide during exhalation. When we breathe properly, the diaphragm expands in three directions and a deep relaxed breath is taken. However, when we are stressed and anxious, the diaphragm, along with the neck and shoulders, often tightens and shortens the breath. This in turn disrupts the proper exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. If the body doesn’t have the proper exchange, less oxygen is available for internal organs to perform their function and for the brain to think clearly, causing undue stress on the body.
How powerful is proper breathing? Proper breathing helps calm your sympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight” system), which takes less stress off of your adrenal system. It also reduces stress hormones, including cortisol and insulin, which are also fat storage hormones. This is just one way your breathing impacts your metabolism. Further, proper breathing lowers blood pressure. Many research studies are finding that blood pressure can be lowered through breathing. For many individuals, improving breath technique and/or performing regular mindful breathing exercise sessions may reduce or eliminate the need for medication. Be sure to discuss a breathing practice with your doctor before adjusting your current blood pressure treatment plan.
Proper breathing is essential during exercise. During aerobic activities, such as running or swimming, a good breathing pattern ensures that your working muscles will continue to receive the oxygen they need to keep contracting. According to the American Council on Exercise, you can determine your effort level during exercise by how hard you are breathing. For moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking, you should not be breathing so hard that you can’t carry on a conversation. For vigorous-intensity exercise, such as jogging, you will be breathing faster but you still should be able to talk in short sentences. Elite athletes who are exercising near their maximum heart rate usually can’t say more than a word or two because they are breathing so hard. According to the Heart and Vascular Institute at Penn State, proper breathing is also important when doing other types of stretching. Slow and controlled breathing as you enter a stretch can better allow muscles to relax and lengthen. Fitness experts at the University of California-Riverside say the correct breathing technique when lifting weights is to exhale at the point where the exertion and effort is the greatest. https://www.livestrong.com/article/114694-importance-breathing-during-exercise/