Breath and breathing for better health and fitness
In this episode, we discuss breath and breathing for health. I'm sure you know that breathing is an automatic function that takes no conscious thought to do, but maybe you should spend more time thinking about your breath and breathing.
The purpose of breathing
When I ask someone why we breathe, they will almost always say, to get oxygen. This is half of the answer. We also breathe to expel waste materials, most of which is carbon dioxide. In fact, scientists now believe that when we burn fat, the byproducts are water and carbon dioxide. We lose weight through our breath.
Improving your breathing
Even though breathing is an automatic function, most of us aren't doing it very well. When you're seated and working on a keyboard or using a smart phone, you're collapsing your ribcage and only using a fraction of your lung's capacity. Over time, this weakens the diaphragm.
When you're lifting weights, managing your breathing is a big part of keeping your core tight and maintaining good form. You should breathe in as the weight is lowered and breathe out as the weight is moved. You should never hold your breath during a lift.
Mindful breathing can go a long way toward stress reduction. Chronic stress will keep you from reaching your health and fitness goals. I use the app Headspace to do a mindful breathing practice.
I will also do box breathing to improve the quality of my breathing. This breathing exercise involves breathing in, holding, breathing out, holding; all for a count of three. It is harder than it sounds, but a great exercise to improve breathing efficiency and effectiveness.