Without a steady dose of oxygen, you wouldn’t be reading this sentence, let alone be able to process the information that follows. Your body- brain, muscles, organs, bones- needs oxygen to produce energy and repair and produce cells. Gratefully, your autonomic nervous system allows you to take in oxygen without having to focus on every single breath.
However, if you zone in on breathing and take some steps to learn and employ deep breathing techniques, you will reap benefits not only during your workouts and competitions but in daily life.
How Can Proper Breathing Can Revolutionize Your Workouts?!
A focus on breath…
– Boosts brain function so you can focus on form and increase agility
– Increases your physical energy
– Minimizes anxiety which can calm pre-competition jitters and give-way to better sleeping and recovery between workouts
– Provides effective timing, rhythm and pacing whether you’re running, swimming, doing Yoga, Pilates, lifting weights or performing any endurance activity or short-burst sport
– Allows your muscles to re-oxygenate between movements to improve the quality of workouts
– Can help you avoid blood pressure problems
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You can take steps right now to start breathing better. First, sit up straight. Good posture opens up your lungs. Now, take a deep breath and get started!
While breathing is second nature, breathing for athletic performance takes some practice. The trick is to practice deep breathing and breath control throughout your day so it starts to feel natural.
At the gym, people often have a tendency to hold their breath when digging into a movement. The bad news is, if you hold your breath your movement will not only be weaker, but you could trigger what is called the Valsalva maneuver. Holding your breath while you exert yourself raises your blood pressure. Not only can it make you dizzy, it can actually cause you to pass out. Keeling over in the weight room never looks cool.
Instead, exhale when you are exerting yourself. Inhale when you are more relaxed. In a strength move, this means exhaling during a contraction (lift) and inhaling when you lower the weight. In yoga, exhalations can be used to sink deeper into a pose. Explore how to incorporate conscious breath into your workouts.
Outside of workouts, focus on developing good diaphragmatic breathing. Place a hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. Breathe in deeply through your nose. Feel your abdomen expand under your hand as you inhale. Exhale through your mouth forcefully before taking another inhalation. Try thoracic breathing too. Move your hands up to your ribs and focus on feeling your breath fill your lungs completely before exhalation.
Both techniques invite you to explore and develop the ability to inhale through your nose. Taking in air through your nose allows each breath to move past the cilia in your nostrils which helps warm your breaths and filter out pollutants.
If you need more motivation to focus on breathing, remember this. You can improve every aspect of your body’s mental and physical function by clearing the way for increased amounts of oxygen to circulate through your system. Oxygen is life.