Many people make the same breathing mistakes during a workout; they hold their breath, or breathe at the wrong time. Both of these things not only make your workout harder, but it can also lead to dizziness, headaches, and additional stress. None of which are fun. Slowing down our breathing doesn’t always come naturally in our fast paced world, so if it feels strained at first don’t despair. Keep practicing and soon it will become second nature.Next time you work out, keep these tips in mind:
1. Don’t hold your breath
To get the power you need during physical activity, you need to provide enough oxygen to the body so it can combine with broken down nutrients to create energy for movement. Holding your breath will effectively kill any workout before it starts, so make sure to breathe as you work out.
2. Exhale on exertion
You should breathe in as you are getting ready for a move and exhale on the hardest part (aka, the effort). For example, when performing a squat, breathe in as you lower yourself and breathe out as you come up. Another example is exhaling as you contract your stomach for a sit-up and inhaling as you lay back down.
3. Breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth
When we breathe in through our mouths we tend to take shallow breaths which use our chest muscles more than our diaphragms. If you breathe in slowly through your nose and then exhale completely through your mouth, each movement will happen more naturally as your breath will assist you in carrying out the effort.
Now that you have the basics down, take a moment to practice your breathing. Place one hand on the chest and one on the belly to feel where the breath travels. Relax your body, and exhale completely. Now take a deep, slow breath in through your nose. Let your tummy stay soft and think of the breath expanding three-dimensionally through the chest and back and lastly filling the belly. Once you can’t take in any more air, hold your breathe for a beat and then exhale completely through your mouth emptying out the chest first and then the belly until you feel your lower abdomen naturally tone back. Once your lungs have emptied, repeat the exercise again.
Deep breathing takes practice as most people breathe only into their chest or belly. A one to two-minute breathing practice a day will help your workouts (and stress level) greatly.