If you have taken an Annie Mello class in Sioux Falls, then you know I really emphasize the importance that breathing plays in your workout!
But why? Can proper breathing really help improve your workout?
Chris has been having me really focus on my breath in my daily routine, and it has been a game changer (in only a month of focus). I’ve been focusing on deep inhales and exhales though the nose.
How Breathing Works During Exercise
When you exercise and your muscles work harder, your body uses more oxygen and produces more carbon dioxide. Your circulation also speeds up in order to transmit the oxygen to the muscles, so that they can keep moving. When your lungs are healthy, you keep a large breathing reserve.
Proper breathing is essential during exercise. A good breathing pattern ensures that your working muscles will continue to receive the oxygen they need to keep contracting.
When you inhale, air is pulled into microscopic air sacs in the lungs called alveoli. This is where oxygen is delivered to red blood cells and carbon dioxide is transferred from the blood to the air in the alveoli. The oxygen-rich blood flows to your heart, which then pumps it out to your body. You exhale the carbon dioxide.
Breathing Naturally while Exercising
The body is amazing!
Your respiratory system in the brain sends messages to your respiratory muscles, telling them when to breathe. This is automatic; you don’t have to think about it.
But when you exercise, your brain notes that there is an increase in carbon dioxide and lactic acid — a byproduct of exercising muscles — in your blood and tells your respiratory muscles to increase the speed and depth of your breaths so you can offload all the extra carbon dioxide and deliver additional oxygen to your working muscles.
Breathing Techniques to Try
You may already be familiar with some basic breathing techniques while working out, but in case you are not, here are some to get you started.
Breathe In – Breathe Out
The most common breathing technique when working out is to breathe in on the way down (contraction), and breathe out on the way up(extension).
For one example, let’s look at a body squat. This technique would have us breathe in before we lower (contraction) our body to the ground, and then exhale as we push (extension) through the heels to stand. Then repeat.
Another great breathing technique while exercising is nasal breathing. To do this, breath deeply in through the nose and out through the nose.
Once you have your groove and are consistently nasal breathing, check for potential differences in these areas:
- Emotional state — Nasal breathing should lead to a more relaxed state. (When life is stressful, and you note that you are mouth breathing, try switching to nasal breathing and inhaling slowly and deeply.)
- Exercise recovery — Because nasal breathing is more efficient, recovery should be smoother after working out.
- Immune system — Nasal breathing is a major line of defense against airborne pathogens. The mouth has no defense system. You may experience improvements with overall breathing and decrease in allergies or colds.
Nasal breathing can profoundly improve our awareness, and feels both mentally and physically. Our breath is the direct link to a calm, clear mind and body.
Give It a Try!
Overall, breathing exercises increase happiness and workout efficiency while decreasing stress. Practice these exercises as often as possible. Keep it fresh by practicing in the car, while at work, or during your workout.