Often underestimated, proper breathing is essential to everyday health and well-being. Breathing delivers oxygen to your blood, then your blood delivers oxygen to your organs, muscles and other body tissues. Just like with almost everything else in life, there is a better, more efficient way to breathe. This more efficient way of breathing is known by a number of different names, such as deep breathing, yoga breathing and abdominal (belly) breathing – just to name a few. The name abdominal breathing describes it best.
What kind of a breather are you? Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Take a deep breath – fill your lungs as much as you can. Which hand moved first and more? The one on your chest or the one on your abdomen? If it was your chest hand, then you are a chest breather. If it was the one on your abdomen, congrats, you are breathing more efficiently than a chest breather.
The reality of it is, though, that most people are chest breathers. Never fear, you can retrain your body to breathe differently. Especially since you probably used to be a belly breather. If you look at how an infant breathes, you will notice that their belly rises before their chest when they breathe. What you are seeing is their diaphragm muscle working. “When you take a breath, 80 percent of the work is done by the diaphragm. If you strengthen your diaphragm, you may improve your endurance and be less likely to become fatigued,” says Everett Murphy, M.D.
Train yourself to be an abdominal breather when you are relaxing, sitting or doing something similar. Concentrate on filling your abdomen first, then your chest. This training will carry over to other aspects of your day when you can’t concentrate as much on your breathing – such as when you are working out. But it is during your workout that you may find the biggest rewards of belly breathing.
By delivering oxygen to your muscles with less energy, you improve your endurance and power. Also, strengthening your core muscles will help you breathe better. A strong core means a strong diaphragm and therefore more efficient abdominal breathing. Which then leads to more energy and mental clarity.
Want to learn more about how to breathe better? Come into Infinite Fitness and speak with one of our knowledgeable trainers. They will help you get your breathing in shape.