Breathing While Exercising

Proper breathing while exercising is extremely important. Breathing is how we supply our cells, tissues and organs with oxygen. With proper breathing we help:

* Lower blood pressure;

* Reduce stress by decreasing stress hormones and increasing the mood enhancing hormone, serotonin;

* Enhance athletic performance;

* Improve brain function and focus.

When we inhale, we bring oxygen into our blood to distribute, and when we exhale, we purge our body of toxins and gases, such as carbon dioxide. Proper breathing involves inhaling and exhaling through your nose and breathing into your abdomen, not your chest. To ensure you are breathing correctly, your abs should rise before your chest. If you breathe rapidly with shallow breaths you will often experience a shortness of breath, stressing your heart and lungs.

When exercising always exhale on exertion. Do not hold your breath, as this causes a drop in the energy in your cells, leading to fatigue.

Keeping all of this in mind, it is important to note that one method of breathing does not work for all workouts. During cardio workouts continuous breathing increases nitric oxide gas, which relaxes arteries and maintains the blood flow needed to sustain rhythmic activity, such as running. While lifting weights you want to inhale on the less strenuous phase of the exercise and exhale on the more strenuous phase. During free-weight exercises or body weight based exericses such as push-ups, a good rule of thumb is to exhale during the phase of exercise where gravity is opposed. Proper breathing will tense your core muscles and aid you in keeping the proper form. Proper breathing also keeps the systolic blood pressure (the active pressure) more normalized and helps prevent a spike in pressure, which may cause several adverse health conditions.

During stretching concentrate on slow, deep breaths. This will help you loosen up as you stretch your muscles and lower the chance of “pulling a muscle”.

If your workout involves plyometrics, it helps stabilize your body when you hold your breath during explosive movements. For example, to keep your body rigid you should focus on holding your breath when your foot strikes the floor.

When you are finished with a tough set of exercises your body is craving oxygen and it needs to be replenished. Remember to breathe deeply into your abdomen(diaphramic breathing), bringing in more oxygen to your body, aiding in a quicker recovery.

During your next workout, keep these points in mind and check yourself to ensure you have the proper breathing techniques. If you find you are not breathing correctly, focus on the proper technique and soon it will become automatic.

Creating the Workout Habit

Almost everyone would love to create the “Workout Habit” and live a healthy lifestyle. The hard part is creating the habit and making it part of your daily lifestyle. Following are steps you can take to help you make workouts part of your daily routine.

* The first steps to take are to make your workouts part of your daily schedule and to view your workout as a “cannot” miss appointment on your “to do list”. Block the time off on your schedule, and to help ensure that life does not get in the way, plan it for the first thing in the morning. To make getting to the gym easier, gather up what you need for your workout the night before and set it aside, so everything is ready for you. Tell yourself you will not make excuses for missing workouts.

 

* Find yourself a workout partner.  You are more likely to show up at the gym if you know someone is depending on you to be there.

 

* Try different forms of exercise until you find the workout regimen you like.  Once you have the workout you enjoy, it will make getting to the gym a whole lot easier.

 

* Start off slow and easy and build on it.  This will help you avoid injury and prepare yourself mentally and physically for more intense workouts to come.

 

* Look at exercise in a positive light and tell yourself that you, “want to workout”.  Remind yourself how great you feel after working out and visualize how the “new you” will look!

 

* Set a goal and commit to it by writing it down.  We are much more likely to commit to a goal if we have committed to it in writing.

 

* Remember, you will not always get a great workout in, but a bad workout is always better than the one you did not do.  Some exercise is better than none!

 

* Measure your workouts.  With today’s technology it is easy to track the intensity of your efforts.  It is a lot easier to improve something, if you have an accurate way of measuring it.

 

* Working out is like many things in life; If it were easy, everybody would do it!   Tell yourself you will not make excuses for missing workouts and keep in mind, “If you think you can or think you can’t, you are absolutely right”!