Just Breathe: Best Breathing Techniques for Exercise

Just Breathe: Best Breathing Techniques for Exercise

By: ERIN RACHEL DOPPELT

My nails are painted black with blue sparkles. I had to add the blue sparkles because the black gave me a “I’m so misunderstood goth” look, which I don’t portray very well. The paint on my thumbnail pealed off due to New Years Eve escapades; feel free to use your imagination. The color choice matched my NYE dress and the night was filled with 21-year-old bliss.

As the reader, you’re my focus. You may be thinking what was this chick doing on NYE? What did her dress look like? And why did her nail polish on her thumb come off? Girlfriend, those questions will be ignored. However, I will guarantee that you inhaled a minimum of five times while reading the above and the last thing you were thinking about was your breath.

Now that you are thinking about breathing, I’d like to clue you in on the basics. You breathe in order to sustain life. According to Mad Dogg Athletics, recent medical studies have shown that when we don’t breathe well, illnesses such as heart disease and high blood pressure may take over. Stress and anxiety contribute to the lack of attention we have toward breathing. The next time you have a stressful event, remember to chill out with some breathing exercises.

The diaphragm is responsible for 75 percent of all respiration and moves downward during inhalation. The organs in your abdomen are rolled and massaged, allowing fresh blood and nutrients to be squeezed in and out of the organs.

Yoga instructor, Donna Farhi, who has 35 years of breathing technique experience, suggests breathing through an object, such as a tube. “This exercise will dramatically lengthen both the inhale and the exhale, allowing the diaphragm to strengthen and work smoothly,” says Farhi. The results relax the whole body making less work for our major organs and helping us to be more efficient in every move we make. The longer exhale helps an athlete become aware of where he or she may be hurting or where tightness in muscles may be. Oxygen increases in the body giving muscles more fuel, which leads to burning more calories.

As a spin instructor I encourage nasal to mouth breathing to regain strength as fast as possible. For example, picture a spin sprint circuit: 30 second sprint in the saddle followed by a 15 second rest, repeated 8 times. (Perhaps to the song “Raise Your Glass” by Pink). The 15 second rest should focus on nasal to mouth breathing. Inhale a few seconds through the nose and exhale out of the mouth. This type of breath engages the diaphragm and lowers the heart rate while also increasing concentration. The more fit you are the faster your heart rate will decrease. The body will immediately pump blood to the muscles working the hardest and give them energy to finish the circuit strong. This breathing technique is also beneficial for people who stress out about the little things in life.

The mind and body are linked while breathing. Swimmers need their heads to move with their body to intake breath. Michael Phelps, Olympic gold medal swimmer, only allows half his mouth to come out of the water to intake breath. The lower stomach bloats to hold the air in the bottom of the lungs and the exhale forms bubbles in the water. This is the most efficient form of breathing in freestyle swimming and most commonly used.

When oxygen enters the body during workouts it goes through the bloodstream and helps chemical reactions occur faster, ultimately leading to more calories burned in a shorter amount of time. Metabolism increases, meaning fat burns away and helps contribute to weight loss.

The main point to take away from this article: mindful breathing helps achieve peak performance. So, girlfriends, breathe deeper and stronger this year. Reach your optimum health and fitness by implementing these breathing habits.

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