The Importance of Breathing During Exercises

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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.

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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.Image result for importance of breathing during exercise

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.

Check out these expert tips on how to breathe during your favorite workouts:

During Weight Lifting
Inhale on the less strenuous phase of the exercise, and exhale on the more demanding phase of the exercise. Image result for importance of breathing during weight liftingIf you’re hitting heavy weights, though, You inhale on the easy part, hold you breath for just a short second as you approach the hardest part of the exercise (commonly called the “sticking point”), and once you’ve completed it, you exhale per usual. The maneuver helps you tighten your core muscles and maintain proper form. However, it does briefly increase blood pressure. So if you have any cardiovascular problems, the move isn’t for you.

During Cardio
“Continuous breathing will help you to increase nitric oxide, an important gas that relaxes the arteries and keeps the blood flow that you need to sustain your rhythmic activity,” says exercise physiologist Marta Montenegro, C.S.C.S. Instead of breathing in an even pattern, though, try inhaling for three seconds and then exhaling for two, suggests Budd Coates, M.S., author of Running on Air: The Revolutionary Way to Run Better by Breathing Smarter. While it takes some serious concentration at first, research shows that the greatest running impact occurs when your foot strike coincides with the beginning of your exhale. So by keeping a 3:2 breath tempo, you’ll minimize your chance of injury.

During Stretching

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Stretching is all about loosening up—so focus on inhaling deeply. It relaxes your muscles so you can get a better stretch and lower your risk of pulling anything, says Montenegro. The exhale will follow naturally.

During Recovery
Ever finished a set of squats, and thought “that wasn’t so bad,” and then started huffing and puffing? That’s because your body needs oxygen to replete its energy stores. So in between sets of exercises, practice diaphragmatic breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing allows you to get more oxygen into your lungs—and to your muscles—per breath so you can hit your next exercise hard. To do it, focus on filling and emptying your abdomen with each breath rather than raising and lowering your chest.




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