Have you ever thought about how much your breathing plays a part in your overall health and well-being? Or even your fitness? Take a moment right now to stop whatever you're doing, shut your eyes for half a minute and pay attention to your breath. Was it restricted, choppy and stammered? Or did you find it to be long, refreshing and smooth? Did the movement come from your belly or your chest? Maybe you breathe out of your nose or your mouth (or both in cycles)?
There's a reason breathing correctly is a big deal. Poor breathing can cause serious issues. Noticing just how you intake air is a telescope into the cosmos of your nervous system. It's also an incredibly potent key to unlocking built-up stress and mental anguish, allowing you a further degree of psychological control of your mind. Stress management is important and concentrating on a fulfilling, oxygenated breath will only serve to benefit that. It also reduces cortisol, a pesky hormone linked to fuller bellies and higher concentrations of fat through the body.
Take a moment to try this yourself. Set aside a brief sliver of time and breathe slowly through your nose for a steady count of 4 seconds. Retain that in your chest for another count of four and then follow it with a slow exhale of yet another 4 seconds. Stay on top of this for a few times in a row until it's no longer a chore and feels comfortable. Do you feel calmer, perhaps more grounded and energised? Did you get a brief burst of clarity as well? How did your stress levels react to it? You may be surprised at how quickly a good breathing exercise can benefit you.
Learning how to breathe is something that you're not told about growing up in school or at college. Learning how to do it efficiently and effectively not only acts as a relaxation practice but is also a crucial component of fitness. When you train yourself to inhale and exhale air correctly and at a smooth, even rate, it stimulates the digestion and immune systems via the parasympathetic nervous system. That drops cortisol and promotes balance in the thyroid and adrenal glands.
Did you know that a lot of people only use about 25% of their breathing capacity? That's because they keep their lungs and chest in a state of contraction, which lowers the amount of oxygen their body is getting. After practicing and honing your breathing capabilities, boosting your lung function to 80%+ levels, it can serve as an effective, potent workout. Breath by itself can build up heat and even cause you to break a sweat when you're training! And don't forget why we breathe in the first place; oxygenate the bloodstream and deplete toxins like carbon dioxide. There's no need to buy fancy workout kit; this tech is built directly into the machinery of your own body. More oxygen means better circulation, a clearer mind (oxygen + brain = happy thoughts), heightens the immune system and bolsters an energy boost. Think of all those benefits you've probably missed out on! Even at work or on the go, you can practice beneficial breathing exercises without needing to head to the gym or set aside a bunch of time. Just keep yourself committed and pushing forward one deep breath at a time; you won't regret it!
Our Fit Squad instructors focus on the importance of breathing during every class to ensure that every client reaches their full potential. Sign up for a free taster session today to see how we can help you reach your health and fitness goals.