isn’t something most people think about, we do it naturally and unconsciously from the minute we are born so what’s to think about?
Correct breathing comes quite naturally to an infant but after about a year most people acquire different habits that changes their breathing pattern as they age.
Breathing properly is essential to good health, retraining ourselves to breathe properly isn’t difficult it just takes a bit of practice.
Breathing allows the lungs to absorb oxygen from the air which then enters the bloodstream via blood vessels called capillaries.
When we take a deep breath and fill our lungs correctly, oxygen is distributed via the bloodstream to all the cells in our body. When we breathe out carbon dioxide is expelled cleansing the body and blood of waste.
The body is a very efficient machine, pumping fresh air in and waste out. Think of breathing properly as fine tuning, get it right and it will pump efficiently all your life. Good breathing and exercise helps to maintain vitality and vigor, lack of oxygen can make you sluggish and tired.
Abdominal inhalation is considered to be the correct way of breathing properly. Many people, especially women, are shallow breathers; this means they breathe from the chest without filling the lower part of the lungs.
Test your Breathing
Try this simple test to monitor your own breathing habit.
- Stand or sit upright but relaxed.
- Place one hand on your chest and one on your stomach.
- Breathe normally for a few seconds and see which hand moves the most.
If the hand on your tummy rises the most you have good breathing habits. If the hand on your chest moves the most you are more likely to be a shallow breather.
Diseases such as Asthma and Emphysema cause difficulty with breathing and although breathing exercises can be beneficial, anyone with respiratory disease should consult their physician before undertaking any exercises.
Many hospitals have respiratory units and are able to offer advice and breathing exercises with qualified therapists.
Stress and high blood pressure are renowned for their negative effect on breathing properly. Stress causes people to lose control of their breathing, trying to remain calm is difficult and the more they stress the worse it gets.
Understanding more about breathing properly and knowing how to get it under control will be beneficial over time. Learning how to breathe properly will not only help to lower blood pressure and relieve stress it will also teach you to relax so that you will be more able to cope with day to day problems.
is very detrimental to the lungs and the respiratory system; it’s hard to breathe properly when filling the lungs with toxic waste. If you are a smoker its worth looking at the benefits of quitting. Your lungs won’t need to work so hard and you will see positive results very quickly.
is a great natural exercise that will help to enhance exercises for breathing properly. Whenever possible walk in a clean environment; on the beach or in the country, away from suburbia and industrial areas. Posture is important so remember to keep your back straight, walk briskly and let arms swing naturally. Fresh clean air and exercise will invigorate your system leaving you refreshed and energized.
Breathing exercises are just like any other form of exercise. When you are undertaking something new, take it slowly, just two or three at a time and if you feel dizzy or light-headed stop immediately, relax until your breathing returns to normal.
Exercise to help reduce stress
- Kneel comfortably, place hands on knees and close your eyes.
- Breathe in slowly for a count of 8 or as close as you can get without discomfort.
- Breathe out slowly to count of 8.
Do this exercise in a gentle controlled manner.
Simple exercises for breathing properly
- Sit upright on a chair or a bench. Relax shoulders.
- Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Check that your abdomen moves in and out while you breathe.
- To help expel any trapped air breathe in counting to 2 and out counting to 3 or 4. Breathing should be slow and controlled.
- Lie flat on your back and place one hand lightly on your stomach.
- Breathe deeply so that your hand moves up and down each time you breathe in and out.
- This is an ideal exercise to do just before you get up in the morning.
Correct Breathing Pattern.
- Sit upright but relaxed.
- Breathe in through nose Purse lips.
- Breath out slowly through pursed lips releasing air naturally without forcing.
Do this several times a day to practice correct breathing. If you feel dizzy or uncomfortable relax and breathe slowly.
Exercise to strengthen diaphragm.
- Lie on your back on a flat surface.
- Place one hand on abdomen.
- Place other hand on upper chest.
- As you breathe in through the nose try to make your stomach move out whilst keeping chest as still as possible.
- Breathe out through pursed lips and let stomach relax inwards, keeping the hand on your upper chest as still as possible.
Clearing the lungs.
- Stand feet apart and arms by the side.
- After an out breath, breathe in bringing arms up from sides parallel to shoulders.
- When arms are level with shoulders bend them and place fingertips on shoulders.
- Retaining breath, drop head to chest and squeeze chest with elbows. Hold for a count of 3 or 4 seconds.
- Breathing out, raise your head bring elbows out and lower arms to side.
When applying pressure with elbows use gentle controlled pressure that is comfortable.
Breathing might be automatic, but breathing properly will require some re-training. Time spent now to get your breathing right will reward you with better health and greater energy.