How you breathe can have a big impact on what you’re getting from your workouts. Consider the last time you took a fitness class with an instructor or had a personal training session; they always say “breathe, keep breathing”. It sounds like it should be intuitive, but there’s a great deal of confusion about why certain types of breathing are so important for different workouts and how it all works to keep your body in the best shape.
Nose vs. Mouth Breathing
The advantages of breathing through the nose include the fact that nose hairs are a great filtration system, the nose is a killer of viruses and bacteria (thanks to an enzyme in the mucous), and an air warmer in the winter. The smaller opening of the nose (vs. the mouth) means the oxygen has longer to be exposed to the lung tissue, so more is extracted. It’s also said to induce a calming effect on your body. However, mouth breathing tends be known as the standard when it comes to running and other high intensity activities because it brings in more oxygen than breathing through your nose.
While there are pros to both nose breathing and mouth breathing, it depends most upon what kind of activity you’re doing and what you’re comfortable with. Sometimes it’s even a combination of both – breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Otherwise known as abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing, belly breathing became popular among athletes back in the 1970s. Now it’s popular in many sports and among yoga and meditation enthusiasts, and even accomplished singers.
Belly breathing is when you breathe in slowly through your nose and start to feel your belly puff out. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “The diaphragm is the most efficient muscle of breathing.” Belly breathing pulls more oxygen deeper into your lungs than chest breathing.
Deeper Breathing = Mindful Breathing
During strenuous exercise, it’s natural to start panting and double-breathing, but purposefully focusing on your breath will get your body back on track to a normal state. Get control of your breathing pattern and focus on pulling as much air deep into your lungs as possible. You will get higher quality oxygen intake and just might win a sprint.
Don’t Forget About The Exhale
Many athletes focus only on getting air into their lungs, rather than out. This is a reaction to a perception of scarcity. We panic and want the air out so we can get the next breath in fast. This might be robbing your body of more of the oxygen in that quick breath of air. In order to get the most value out of the oxygen you’re pulling into your lungs, focus just as much on the exhale. Don’t blow it out, but rather let the air out of your lungs in a controlled manner.
Proper breathing can actually be as much a part of workout recovery as the workout itself. When you stop working out, your body is just starting to repair the minute tissue damage you’ve done by stressing your muscle groups. Getting a proper amount of oxygen ensures that this process happens effectively.
When working out, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and push yourself to the point of huffing and puffing, but try to remember that’s not necessarily the best thing for your body. If you start to feel out of breath, practice mindful breathing, no matter what type of breathing it is. Deep inhales and exhales are an essential part of fitness during and after the workout. Looking to revamp your workouts and really get breathing heavily again? Contact your local Gym Source and we’ll walk you through the equipment and exercises you need.
Sources & Further Reading: