Take a deep breath. Breathing is often something we don’t think about, but when you’re exercising, it can make a big difference in your endurance and the quality of your workout. Focusing on and improving your breathing technique can actually help you keep going longer and avoid injury. Learn the best way to breathe for each type of exercise you do.
Nose vs. Mouth
There’s no conclusive evidence that breathing through your nose or through your mouth is objectively better during exercise, though some people claim that breathing through your nose can increase carbon dioxide saturation in your blood, which helps keep you calm. Most of the time, you should choose the way that’s most comfortable for you.
Breathing While Running
Many runners breathe by taking one breath for every two steps. That means breathing out while taking two steps, then breathing in during the next two steps. The goal is to keep your breath synchronized with your steps to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on your diaphragm as your internal organs bounce around in your body. This will keep your breathing easy and comfortable as you run, and enhance your performance.
Breathing During High Impact Workouts
If you’re playing a high intensity sport such as football, and you expect to be dealing with impact against your body, you should breathe a little differently. If you know you’re about to be hit, take a deep breath and brace your core. This will protect your spine and make you more stable. During the game, breathe from your diaphragm and avoid taking shallow breaths. Deep breaths will help you stay calm and focused, which could make quite a difference in a competitive sport.
Breathing While Weight Lifting
Exhaling while exerting yourself will increase your strength and stability. Breathe out evenly as you push or pull the weight, then inhale on the return to starting position. Contracting your respiratory muscles can help you control the weight you’re lifting and stay balanced. Just remember to breathe out!
During yoga, whatever you do, keep breathing. You should never hold your breath while doing yoga exercises. Many poses in yoga are measured in breaths, so it’s important to match the length of your breaths. Breathe in for the same amount of time you breathe out, and develop a rhythm. This can lower your blood pressure, reduce stress and help you hold difficult positions. Stop and take a break to focus on your breathing if you find yourself struggling.
Healthy Living and Healthy Breathing
We all have bad habits, but some of those habits can affect the quality of our breathing. Maintain good posture to ensure maximum airflow and circulation, and avoid things like cigarettes and allergens that can interfere with your breathing. Learning to breathe well will not only improve your exercise, it will improve the quality of your life in general. So sit up straight, take a deep breath, and take a step toward being the healthiest person you can be.