When you’re stressed out, you may turn to exercise to let off some steam, but being mindful of your breathing is important, too.
Think about it. One of the things we tell ourselves to do (or are told to do) when life or work is chaotic, and we’re feeling pressed to our limits is this: “Take a deep breath.”
The same holds true for when we exercise.
Why? Because controlled breathing not only keeps the mind and body functioning optimally, it can also lower blood pressure, promote feelings of calm and relaxation and help us de-stress.
So, here are few breathing tips while exercising:
Breathe for Stretching
We all want to avoid injuries. But we often put ourselves at risk for injury when we do not properly warm up our bodies prior to and following exercise. Stretching helps to improve circulation, flexibility and range of motion. The key to gaining the most benefits from stretching is proper breathing.
How to do it: Breathe deeply and consistently while holding a stretch. Breathe in through your nose and allow your abdomen to expand. When you exhale, let the air fully out through your mouth as you push deeper into the stretch. The more natural your controlled breathing is, the more relaxed you will be and the stretch even greater.
Breathe for Strength Training
Taking a few deep breaths before you lift weights makes you more conscious of your controlled breathing during your workout. This also helps you tighten your core muscles and maintain proper form, while avoiding risk for injury. Providing optimal support for the spine will make you stronger structurally.
How to do it: Take a few deep breaths. Upon lifting, inhale about 75 percent of maximum air into your belly and hold that breath throughout the repetition, exhaling only when you complete the rep.
Breathe for Cardio
Cardiovascular exercises rely on the ability of the heart, lungs and blood vessels to deliver oxygen to your body tissues. Controlled, continuous breathing will help you to increase nitric oxide, which naturally relaxes the arteries and keeps the blood flow that you need to sustain your activity.
How to do it: Instead of breathing in an even pattern, like with stretching and weight lifting, you want to aim for a 3:2 breath tempo, meaning you inhale for 3 seconds and then exhale for 2. Maintain this controlled breathing pattern throughout the course of your activity.
Here’s to mindful, controlled breathing while you exercise!
To avoid injury risk, be sure to seek advice directly from your physician, especially if you have existing medical issues, before beginning any exercise or nutritional program. Additionally, stretch following exercise to avoid muscle and joint tightness.
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