5 Impactful Ways that Breathing Exercises can Boost Your Health
It’s so ironic. Breathing is something which is so basic, it’s so essential, yet we rarely ever think about it, or we neglect it altogether. Breathing is arguably the most important activity we engage in to survive, but we pay very little attention to it from moment to moment. Our breathing has gotten so dysfunctional that we think it’s normal never to influence or control it. However, did you know that paying attention to how you breathe can actually fight anxiety? It can even help you sleep better and exercise harder. These and many more benefits are available to you if you take notice of what you inhale, and how you breathe in different situations.
Here are a few tips on how to use breathing as a mechanism for a healthy lifestyle:
- Oxygenate Your Muscles When Working Out – If you want to enhance your muscle power, practice inhaling whenever you lengthen muscles and exhaling whenever you contact them. For example, if you’re doing a biceps curl — exhale as you flex your elbow and curl up, and inhale when lowering the weight back down. This is the most efficient way to cycle oxygen into your bloodstream in order to feed your metabolism.
- Take Deep Breaths when You’re Stressed – Picture the scene. You’re in the middle of a work project, and it’s not going well. You won’t even notice, but your natural reaction is to take quick and shallow breaths, which actually increases your body’s stress response. The fastest way to stop anxiety is to slow your breathing down to about five breaths per minute. Breathe gently and naturally without overfilling your lungs and without forcing the air out.
- Slow Down Before Bedtime – For people who have trouble drifting off, deep breathing at bedtime is a great way to sedate your body. This will slow your heart rate down considerably and can be an entryway to sleep onset. Belly-breathing or abdominal breathing is especially effective to induce sleepiness. To do it, place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Breathe through your nose for about two seconds, with your belly moving outward more than your chest. As you breathe out, gently press your belly, which will push up on your diaphragm and help you get the air out. Repeat this routine until you feel yourself getting sleepy.
- Don’t Tense Up When You’re Concentrating – People naturally tend to tighten their entire bodies when focusing on something intently. This has the inadvertent consequence of rapidly shortening your breaths. During times when you need to hunker down and focus, pause, and start to breathe in sharply. Breathe out forcefully as well and allow your lungs to stretch fully. This encourages your system to relax and be more tranquil.
- Choose Peace Over Pain – Whether you’ve just stubbed your toe, you’re nursing a splitting headache or you have a painful chronic condition, the way you breathe may bring relief. Using deep, slow breathing techniques creates a higher pain threshold when something is ailing you. This, for example, is why women with a child are taught Lamaze breathing to cope with labor pains.
For many people, breathing exercises seem unnatural. After all, it’s an odd feeling to try and control something which happens instinctively. This is the wrong mindset to have however if you sincerely care about healthy living. Well-executed breathing exercises encourage full oxygen exchange. This is a trait that is invaluable to physical fitness. The next time you feel overwhelmed by anything, whether physical or mental, stop to check whether you’re breathing efficiently. This painless gesture can set the stage for dramatic positive transformation in your overall wellness.