Monday, March 2, 2009

Proper breathing for a healthy life

Oxygen is vital for a healthy life, yet few people breathe properly and this can have a serious effect on your future health and limit your fitness potential.

Do you use a breathing technique?

The other day I was in the gym working out with my son and he was turning beat red in the face in the middle of our workout.

His strength and energy were dropping quickly and he looked like he was going to collapse. He started asking me if I ever felt like I was going to throw up working out?

This is something a lot of people experience when they workout, especially doing heavy weights or high intensity sets (with little or no rest).

The reason for this is most people don’t pay any attention to how they breathe.

When most people exercise they usually follow two breathing patterns, they breathe in and hold there breathe through out the entire repetition.

Or they inhale before and during the lower phase of each repetition and exhale during the ending phase of each repetition.

Even though you can lift more weight by holding your breath doing so increases your blood pressure. This makes it more difficult for your heart to pump blood and eventually reduces blood flow to your brain.

Your lungs are a primary control of your energy level. Without the proper airflow your strength and energy levels will drop during exercise, and your blood pressure will rise.

The end result is a red face, dizziness, and sometimes nausea or fainting.

Since the bench press is a common heavy lift exercise here is the best breathing technique to use to avoid this from happening to you.

1. Lift the barbell of the rack
2. As you are holding the bar over your head breath in more than you normally would.
3. Hold your breath as you lower the bar to your chest.
4. Press the bar forcefully upward and start exhaling after you pass the sticking point till the end of the lift.
5. Inhale again as you prepare for the next repetition.

Now most people will inhale through their mouth and exhale out their mouth!

But doing so will accelerate water loss increasing possible dehydration.

Plus when breathing through your mouth, the brain thinks carbon dioxide is being lost too quickly and sensing this will cause constriction of blood vessels.

If you are lifting heavy or doing a high intensity workout (multiple sets and reps) you will end up exhausting yourself breathing to quickly this way.

But regardless if you are working out or living in your every day daily life proper breathing is essential for your overall future health.

Contrary to what most people think your nose isn't on your face for your stunning good looks. It serves a vital function to your overall health.

If you inhale through your nose, and exhale though your mouth slowly. You will be in control of your breathing and your overall future health.

By not breathing through your nose you can aggravate snoring or obstructive sleep apnea; untreated obstructive sleep apnea can lead to chronic fatigue, depression, weight gain, high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

Plus there is an added benefit from inhaling through your nose; this will create nitric oxide naturally.

Nitric oxide made by your nose and sinus mucous membranes are produced in small amounts, but when inhaled into your lungs significantly enhance your lungs capacity to absorb oxygen.

This can increase oxygen absorption in your lugs by 10-25 percent, plus its lethal to bacteria and viruses keeping you healthier.

Nitric oxide that occurs naturally in your body helps prevent blood clots and regulates blood pressure, and is critical for getting an erection.

For more information on this subject read this post from Med Help

When there is proper oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange, the blood will maintain a balanced pH.

Regardless if you are training for strength, endurance, or building lean muscle.

Or you just want to live a longer healthier life; breathing through your nose is a must.

Try it right now; breathe in through your nose and exhale out through your mouth.

Start making a conscious effort in doing this daily; you might be pleasantly surprised how this simple thing will affect your quality of life!

Let me hear back from you on how this made you feel?

Want to know more? Read- Eat to beat stress


timethief said...

This is an excellent post and I'm so glad I came and read it and discovered your excellent blog. In yoga Pranayama practice teaches us the proper way to breathe.

Along life's pathway we became used to gulping air in through our mouths breathing from our upper chest, using only a fraction of the lungs, not knowing that this unhealthy and unnatural way of inhaling may lead to several complications.

With yoga breathing, we inhale and exhale through our nose, we increase the capacity of our lungs, bringing more oxygen supply to the body to function well. We learn how to breathe in slowly and deeply allowing the natural vacuum of our lungs to draw air into them fully inflating them from top to bottom. Following a few moments of natural suspension we exhale slowly until we have completely emptied our lungs. Then we allow a suspension of breathing to occur naturally until the vacuum created naturally begins the inhalation process again.

From a yogic point of view, proper breathing is to bring more oxygen to the blood and to the brain, and to control prana or the vital life energy.

We never hold our breath when doing asanas. We exhale while accomplishing the most strenuous part of the asanas.

This is just a summary. Pranayama practice involves four stages. 1. inhalation, or the taking in of air
2. a pause before exhaling
3. exhaling, or the pushing out of gas
4. a pause before inhaling again

These four stages comprise the cycle of respiration. In Pranayama, yogis and yoginis prolong the pauses in a way that will benefit their health and state of mind. However, the two pause stages may not exactly be restful since the whole respiratory system, along with its muscular and nervous components, goes through a reversal of direction and many small adaptations whenever such a reversal occurs.

Thanks you for providing me with an opportunity to share my practice with you.


Jack Payne said...

Whatever happened to the old inhale 4, hold 2, exhale 8? Push tummy out, hold, and whistle the exhale. I can walk continuously (no breaks, no pit stops for rest) for 40 minutes by adhering strictly to this. Then sit down without being out of breath in the slighest. And, I am 83. Guess it works.

Kiefers Corner said...

Thanks for the great comments timethief and JackPayne.

Well Jack first i would like to say congratulations on your excellent health for 83.

As for your breathing technique i have never heard of it, but it works.

But you didn't mention if you inhale through your nose while doing it?

Cynthia Wunsch said...

I just read an article about this at and the author seems to be saying to use the same method. Thank you for making more people aware of the importance of breathing through their noses. This is what I use to teach voice students (both singing and speaking) on how to breathe.