When you're in the midst of an intense workout, you're likely going to be expending the majority of your focus and energy on maintaining proper form and effectively performing each move. In addition, you're probably going to be trying to keep your motivation thriving at full force for the duration of your workout. While these are important aspects to keep your focus on, you might neglect other areas of your workout that deserve a sufficient amount of attention as well, like your breathing. It's something we all take for granted, yet having proper and efficient breathing can impact the effectiveness of your workouts and even your overall health. Breathing isn't typically something that people make a conscious effort to do, as it is an inherent, instinctive part of human body functions, yet designating a portion of your focus for breathing is something that can provide you with great benefits applying to your workouts and other elements of your life.
Many of us breathe in short and shallow breaths that don't fully expand our lungs to their maximum capacity. Dr. Fred Muench explains
that full, conscious breathing affects our bodies positively by stimulating oxygen saturation in cells which, in turn, can incite an increase in your energy levels and a boost in your cognitive abilities. In other words, breathing more efficiently can impact your endurance in terms of working out and even help amplify your mental focus and concentration, both of which are also essential to flourishing in other aspects of your life as well. According to Andrew Weil, M.D.
, mindful breathing can produce a variety of effects including reducing stress and tension in your body, mustering energy, calming anxiety and even improving some digestive disorders. In addition, better breathing habits can act as natural stress relievers and help you to perform under duress. Slow, deep breathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is involved with promoting relaxation and recuperation while maintaining alertness; this is great to practice during your pre-workout stretches to channel your focus and energy, and it can also help your body and mind to cool down, post-workout. On the other hand, breathing that is deliberately fast-paced and deep can produce energizing and invigorating effects in your body, which can be useful in helping you to get “in the zone” for impending physical activity or another that requires intense effort and energy. Consciously altering your breathing to achieve specific effects takes a bit of practice, but there are plenty of methods which can be helpful.
Here are two effective methods of conscious breathing to utilize more of your lung capacity and therefore achieve the best physiological results.
This breathing technique is achieved by inhaling and exhaling quickly through your nose. Simply keep your mouth closed but relaxed, and quickly breathe in and out with short breaths for no longer than 15 second to begin with. Three in-and-out breath cycles per second is recommended to produce invigorating effects. However, due to the fast-paced nature of this breathing exercise, it is possible to hyperventilate, which is why the length of time it is practiced should be limited to 15 seconds minimum and a maximum of one minute for those who are used to this type of breathing. Don't practice bellow breathing if you have high blood pressure.
The most important part of this breathing exercise is to focus on your speed and number of breaths you take per minute, which should be fewer than 10. Try to inhale for six seconds, and then exhale for six seconds. Dragging out each breath forces your body to return to homeostasis, regulating your heart rate, blood pressure and helping you to refocus and center your energy.
Breathing is an essential part of healthy body function, which we often ignore in terms of how important it is for us to maintain overall wellness. We hope this information on better breathing can help you to achieve the desired results you want, in terms of energizing or relaxing your body and mind. Make sure to take caution before performing any type of breathing exercises that are not typical for you.
Stay healthy, and have a great weekend!