Have you ever wondered just how much more air your body needs when you exercise? When at rest, we typically breathe around 15 times per minute. However, during exercise that number increases to 40-60 breaths per minute! Why is this the case? Your blood starts circulating at a faster rate when you start increasing your level of physical activity. The oxygen demand that your blood needs signals the lungs to start working harder to increase the volume of oxygen sent to the heart and other working muscles.
Oxygen is essential for our body’s functioning, as it plays a crucial role in energy production, metabolism, and overall vitality. Learning some simple techniques for breathing well can help increase your oxygen levels and improve the results of exercise. Let’s take a look at some of these breathing techniques.
Diaphragmatic Breathing: What It Is and Why It Is Most Important
At the core of proper breathing lies the diaphragm. This dome-shaped muscle located beneath the lungs is responsible for the majority of our breath control. Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing, engages the diaphragm fully, allowing for deeper and more efficient inhalation and exhalation.
According to Harvard Health, you can practice Diaphragmatic breathing by following these steps:
- Find a comfortable seated or lying position.
- Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen.
- Take a slow, deep breath through your nose, allowing your abdomen to rise while keeping your chest still.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth, feeling your abdomen fall.
- Repeat this process, focusing on deep and controlled breaths.
By mastering diaphragmatic breathing, you can improve lung capacity and stability while exercising.
Breathing for Mobility Exercise
Whether you engage in activities like tai chi or yoga, proper breathing techniques can enhance your mobility exercises. Aim for slower, deeper breaths, synchronized with your movements. This helps to oxygenate your muscles, release tension, and improve their flexibility.
Breathing for Strength Training
For strength training, it is important to have core stability and power. Engaging the core muscles through breath control creates tension, providing a solid foundation for increased power and stability during lifts. As you lift a weight, inhale deeply before initiating the movement, and exhale forcefully during exertion. Avoid the mistake of breath-holding, as it can compromise your form and limit your strength potential.
Breathing for Aerobics
Aerobic exercises, such as running, cycling, or swimming, require sustained energy output. By improving your breathing technique, you can increase the efficiency of your cardiovascular system. Find a consistent breath rhythm that suits your pace, allowing you to take in more oxygen. For example, when running, breathe in for 3-4 foot landings and breathe out for the same amount. This will support your endurance and help you maintain a steady performance.
Common Breathing Mistakes to Avoid
By now, you should have a good idea of the importance of good breathing techniques. However, it is just as crucial to be aware of the common mistakes that can impair your performance and impede your progress. These include the following:
● Holding your breath
● Shallow breathing
● Irregular breath patterns
● Breath-holding during exertion
If you are conscious of your breath and you are sure to breathe deeply, keep a steady rhythm, and breathe out upon exertion, before you know it, you will be able to avoid these mistakes with ease.