30 July 2013 The Benefits of Proper Breathing During Exercise

You may already be familiar with some basic breathing techniques while working out, but our breath can do a lot more than help us lift an extra five pounds. It can affect the overall quality of our workouts, our energy levels, and even our ability to burn fat. So it's important to get it right.

The most common breathing “technique” for working out is, “Breathe in on the way down, and breathe out on the pushing phase.” For one easy example let's look at bench presses. This technique would have us breathe in before we lower the bar to the chest, and then exhale as the bar is pushed away, then repeat.

Breathing correctly is important while exercising for many reasons. One of which is that it helps with posture. The same muscles that help us with our posture are the ones that also help us respire. Good breath, good posture.

There are two major divisions of breathing: belly breathing and chest breathing. Those who practice yoga are already familiar with belly breathing. Breaths from the chest are shorter and shallower, which does not allow our lungs to fill properly, which then does not provide our muscles with their needed oxygen. If we can create a larger storage space for oxygen, more will get to our muscles, and we will see we need shorter recovery periods between sets, and an overall increase in energy and stamina.

And this all comes back to having good posture and knowing how to breathe properly. Good posture will create the physical space we want by properly positioning our diaphragm in relation to our rib cage. Drawing breath in through the “belly” allows us to take in more breath and fill the diaphragm.

Another division in breathing is breathing in through the nose or in through the mouth. Often, people breathe faster than they should while exercising, or they even hold their breath. And generally, those who are “mouth breathers” have a slightly harder time breathing deeply. Drawing air in through the nasal slows our breath and yet allows us to draw in more oxygen than through the mouth. Studies have also shown that people who are better nasal breathers also have better posture. Again, this can be likened to those who regularly practice yoga and practice controlling their breath.

There is a technique to practice for breathing. It is a three-to-two ratio. Inhale for a count of three and exhale for a count of two, and be able to do this easily while exercising. This can be tried while walking up a flight of stairs or on a treadmill. It's hard at first, but it will help provide the body with the maximum amount of oxygen available to us.

Of course, breathing while lifting heavy weights may not fall into this three-to-two ratio, but by coming back to posture, we can know we are getting greater amounts of oxygen.

Now what about breathing and weight loss? The simple answer is that breathing simply allows us to do more. If we breathe right, we can experience a greater range of motion while exercising, do more exercises in a limited amount of time, and work our bodies harder in a routine because it's being fueled by oxygen.

Breathing can also help us lose weight because proper breathing combats stress, and if our bodies are feeling stressed they go into survival mode — slowing metabolism, storing fat because our body is releasing more cortisol, and preventing us from improving our cardiovascular capacities. If we are breathing right, we are relaxed and our bodies function better.

So it really does come down to good old fashioned breathing. Take a deep breath and let us know what you think about breathing while exercising. Does it make a difference in your workouts?

Note:not all breathing techniques are for everyone. Always check with your doctor before introducing something new to your routine. People with high blood pressure are especially at risk when changing breathing patterns. Learn and practice advanced breathing techniques with a professional before trying it on your own.

Ryan Newhouse

Ryan Newhouse is the Marketing Director for MyNetDiary and writes for a variety of publications. He wants you to check out MyNetDiary on Instagram!

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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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