I know what you are thinking. “Who would need instructions on how to breathe?” Breathing doesn’t take thought; it is involuntary, just like blinking your eyes. Shouldn’t we stop thinking about it so and just let it happen? Yes and no. Trainers or exercise instructors regularly need to remind their clients to breathe because so many people tend to hold their breath when they work out.
Many people may think they’re breathing while they’re working out, but they’re actually holding their breath in short bursts. To see if this applies to you, take a few seconds to focus on your breathing next time you’re engaged in strenuous exercise, whether it’s at the gym, running to catch a bus, or going up a flight of stairs. You may surprise yourself by finding out you’re holding your breath most of the time!
But holding your breath isn’t the only problem people face during exercise; their breath is often too fast, too slow, too deep or too shallow. Sometimes they even inhale and exhale at the wrong times, and while that will not make or break your workout, it can affect the exercise itself, how well you perform it, and your mind-body connection.
When it comes to exercise, the art of inhaling and exhaling may be a little more complicated than we think. Should we breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth? And wait — what’s a diaphragm exactly?
It’s important to breathe during exercise because your muscles are working hard and use oxygen as their main source of fuel. It’s okay to breathe with your mouth, your nose, or both — all of these options are normal and help the body to get oxygen. Relaxing your jaw and keeping your mouth slightly open during exercise will help you breathe normally and naturally without much thought or effort. It is especially important to breathe normally during strength training, such as weightlifting; otherwise, your blood pressure can climb up to dangerous levels.
Also, feel free to breathe easily — as long as you’re breathing, the rhythm makes absolutely no difference in your performance. That means that breathing quicker will not make you run faster (and vice versa). If you have asthma, severe allergies, or other respiratory issues, it’s important to give extra thought to the types of the activity you’re doing and what they mean in terms of management of your health.