To Breathe or Not to Breathe ...
I never get sick, LIKE NEVER! So, catching this cold this past week really affected the way I exercise and breathe. I’ve been so stuffed, plugged and choked up, teary eyed, and phlegmy that it was hard to get an actual true full breath.
Breathe in, breathe out – sounds straight forward, right?! Sick or not, breathing is always a hot topic in the gym. Some of the biggest questions I get from my clients daily are about breathing. Like, “when should I breathe”, “should I breathe in through my nose, and out through my mouth”? “What about when I’m running, lifting weights or what about Yoga, what then”? People can get so hung up about when and how that they end up holding their breath!
Whether you’re hitting the bench, treadmill, road or mat, being aware of your breathing is crucial for delivering the oxygen our bodies require to perform functions properly. With proper breath, we can perform our activities more efficiently, for longer periods, achieve better results and even calm our busy minds! Think of oxygen as fuel for your muscles.
Some of the benefits of breathing properly during exercise include:
- Exercising more comfortably, safely for longer periods
- Preventing injuries such as hernias, spikes in blood pressure/strain on blood vessels, and back pain
- Improving your posture
- Improving your immune system
- Increasing blood flow throughout the body
- Increasing your ability to calm your mind and relax
- Helping you let go of distractions and stay focused on the exercise
So, to answer my clients, I usually give them the educated answer of, “breathe out/exhale on the work (exertion) portion of the move and breathe in/inhale on the starting (resting) portion”. BUT for some people, both the work and the rest portions of the exercise are challenging (work). It can be confusing and distracting when you’re simply trying to perform a function or activity.
For me, I like to keep it pure and simple – JUST BREATHE! Our breathing is a natural, instinctive rhythm of our being; it’s always there, supporting and sustaining US.
Find the pattern of BREATH that works for you during exercise and as you become more aware you can play and EXPAND with it.
If you are just starting back to exercise or if you are exercising for the first time, you may find it challenging to control your breathing. The upside is that your heart and lung fitness improve quickly if you continue to exercise regularly. Soon you will develop breathing patterns that are second nature to your activity!
So, remember breathe in – breathe out; there really is no right way or wrong way.
The only exception – the ABSENCE of!