On the Importance of Breathing

Wellness

When exercising, perhaps one of the most important considerations you can make is proper breathing. Positive Health Wellness Oxygen nourishes your muscles and aids in growth and development, and if done incorrectly, can detract from the effectiveness of your workout. Rather than wasting time on exercising without seeing the desired results, remember these tips for proper breathing:

Breathe in when your muscle is relaxed and out when your muscle is strained.
The best way I can explain this is to ask you to imagine that your muscle is a sponge and the air you are inhaling and exhaling is water. When you squeeze the sponge, water is pushed out; when you loosen your grip, the sponge fills with water. Likewise, when your muscle is strained, imagine exhaling all of the oxygen out, then fully inhale when your muscles are relaxed.

Take deep breaths!

The surest way to hyperventilate is to take breaths that are too shallow. If possible, breathe in deeply through your nose, and exhale fully through your mouth. This holds true for any form of exercising, but especially when running or using weights. Additionally, this can be used to overcome a panic or anxiety attacks, and as a relaxation technique.

Regulate your breathing.

This is especially helpful when running. The technique I use is to pick a foot (in my case, my left) and breathe in and out whenever that foot hits the pavement, in a 2-2 rhythm (inhale left-right, exhale left-right). Military.com recommends a 3-2 breathing pattern, meaning you breathe in for three steps, and out for two (i.e., inhale left-right-left, exhale right-left, then repeat with the alternate foot), but I find this to be a little confusing and difficult to implement. Whatever your method, consistency is key.

Don’t rush.

When exercising with weights, take your time. Isolate the muscle you are working on by focusing on the effects of the exercise that you are executing, and take deep breaths with each repetition. This will not only ensure that you are breathing properly, but will lessen the chance of muscle strain or improper technique.

Focus!

Once you have learned appropriate breathing techniques, focus on them as much as you do the individual exercises. It is easy to get caught up in your routine and neglect your breathing, especially if you are listening to music or talking to friends. If this means working out solo and without music for a while, it’s worth it.

Once you have made breathing a priority for long enough, it will be second nature to you, and you will be able to do it properly without thinking. This will optimize the effectiveness of your workout while helping you remain balanced and aware of every aspect of your routine. In addition, correct breathing techniques can help alleviate stress and anxiety, making this aspect of your workout of paramount importance.