Exercising can be challenging and tiring, especially when you push yourself just a little bit harder each time to achieve certain fitness goals. During a workout, many people focus on executing the movement itself with proper form and completing a certain amount of reps or time. However, there's one small, but important, part of the movement that may often get neglected- breathing.
Since breathing is a natural and automatic process, most of the time it gets overlooked- because it just happens. However, proper breathing is a small adjustment that can make a huge impact during exercise. The rate, quality, and control of breathing can often lead to better athletic performance. Oxygen powers the muscles, so if oxygen intake can increase, the harder and more efficiently you can work. There's so many different ways to breathe, and the breath should be modified based on the activity performed.
Many people tend to breathe normally with shallow breaths that begin and end in the chest. However this method does not bring maximum oxygen into your lungs. As a result, this can increase heart rate and blood pressure which may increase any feelings of anxiety or stress, or even give the feeling of shortness of breath.
Instead, the diaphragm muscle should be engaged to power your breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing is the most efficient and effective way to breathe. In this way of breathing, air is inhaled through the nose, filling up your abdominal area (instead of your chest), and exhaling through the nose as the stomach collapses. To practice breathing this way, place your hand on your belly, and feel your belly inflating and deflating with air like a balloon.
During exercise, many people tend to breathe using the mouth, as it is a faster way to breathe in more air. However, it is important to breathe through your nose as much as possible because the cilia (hairlike structures) and mucous filters the air for pollution, germs, and dirt, that the mouth is unable to do.
Just like anything else, practicing better breathing everyday can turn into a good habit. In the long term, proper breathing will:
The proper breathing technique can be intuitive for some, and a learned skill for others. This is why it is important to stay mindful of your breathing as you move.
P.S. If you need a breathable workout mask, Zensah has got you covered.
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