The body is a complex machine. When it comes to working out, not only do you have to make sure that your body is in the right form, but you have to keep an eye on your breathing, as well.
Consider how you breathe and how it could be impacting your workouts. If you want to have a better experience and improve your performance and results, breathing counts for a lot more than you think. Read on to get the facts.
You might be wondering who could actually forget to breathe, but it happens more often than people realize. When you are working out or otherwise stressed, you may subconsciously hold your breath periodically, for example. Some people get winded easily and will continue on with a workout instead of stopping to rest. This could impede or restrict performance.
Even beyond this, though, there is something to be said for breathing properly. Doing that starts by taking your breathing off autopilot and giving it a little extra focus. Most people breathe without thinking about it and that is exactly where it goes wrong in the workout. If you take control of your breathing as part of your fitness routine, you will see improved results and probably even feel better during your exercise.
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It is actually in your favor, in more ways than one, to be mindful of your exhales and inhales, as well as when and how they occur. It can be difficult to learn how to engage in mindful breathing techniques as a part of your exercise routine, but these tips can help:
Use Your Diaphragm
Even though the diaphragm is the main component that handles breathing, most people do not use it to the best of its ability. People typically take shallower, shorter breaths that come from the chest only. This doesn’t give as much oxygen-rich air to the lungs and can increase blood pressure and heart rate unnecessarily while working out. It can even make people feel short of breath or anxious.
The best way to do this, until you get really good at it, is to put your hands in the center of your torso just under your ribs. Push in lightly and take a deep breath. You’ll feel your diaphragm move. Hold the breath for a few seconds, and then exhale just as deeply. Practice this until you get the hang of it– your belly, not your chest, is what should be rising.
Different Breathing for Different Workouts
While you want to increase your oxygen levels by breathing properly, there are different techniques and types of breathing that may be better for certain workouts. When you are strength training, you can use breathing control to help you exert maximum power with minimum effort and even lift more weight. During extreme cardio, on the other hand, you might just want to focus on taking deep breaths from your belly to ensure maximum oxygen flow in the body and bloodstream.
So, for strength training, it is about controlled breathing. For cardio, it is about consistency. If you are engaged in yoga and other similar activities, extra-long breathing patterns can help increase relaxation and improve range of motion.
Practice, Practice, Practice
You will probably spend more time practicing the right breathing techniques than you think. However, it can serve you and your body well. Take the time to practice breathing while you are at home and just going about your day. Make sure that you warm up your breathing when you are warming up your body before exercise. Once you have mastered basic breathing control, you can then move onto specific exercise-based breathing methods or specific techniques based on your fitness routine.
When it comes to exercise, so many people remember the warm-up but do not bother with the cool down afterward. Sending your body into rest suddenly can be as dangerous, or even potentially more damaging than, starting a workout without warming up. This is true for your breathing, as well. Take the time after your workout to breathe deeply while you cool down and help the body return to “normal”. This way, you will give your body the maximum chances of a successful recovery.
When you breathe, you bring oxygen into the body. The more oxygen the body has, the better. Therefore, if you are not breathing correctly, you could be starving the blood and the rest of the organs of valuable resources. The body needs oxygen, and proper breathing techniques, for a variety of things. Even just your baseline blood pressure, resting heart rate, and other vital signs could be impacted by poor breathing habits.
Many people find that once they start being more mindful of their breathing during exercise, they will be able to get better control of it in all areas of their lives. When stress arises or when people experience situations that may have caused them to alter their breathing patterns or even just hold their breath, they may now be able to better control that and keep it from happening. It is a delicate balance, but it’s an effort worth making.
Although some of the benefits have been mentioned in passing, there is really a lot that you stand to gain from improving your breathing techniques. Let us take a moment to reiterate the benefits that come from developing better breathing techniques for workouts and beyond.
Every breath you take matters. Sure, you might not want to spend your life counting them all but developing mindful practices can certainly go a long way in improving your breathing during workouts, cardio or otherwise. Give yourself a better chance at success with any fitness, or even just improve your breathing for the overall health of your body. It is often less about which technique you actually use and more about the fact that you’re taking a mindful approach.
If you want to get additional insights into the necessity of correct breathing and how to achieve it, you could check out online tutorials or YouTube videos that talk about breathing techniques and the proper methods for different workouts. You may find it easy to change your habits or it may prove to be more of a challenge. What matters is that you continue to work toward better breathing, regardless. You need to stay mindful of your breathing. Take advantage of little opportunities throughout the day to practice where you can, and you’ll be on your way to better breathing in no time.