Let’s start off by stating that breathing in general during exercise is a good thing. I don’t say this in jest, I say this because if you are like some of my clients, they forget to breath. I keep telling them, I draw the line at training Smurfs! Get it?
Jokes aside, why is breathing important? Breathing and the respiratory system supplies oxygen to your body tissues and removes carbon dioxide, a waste product from your tissues. Breathing is the process by which you inhale oxygen in the air which is brought into your lungs and absorbed in your blood to be carried to the rest of your body. Through the exhalation process, blood gives up carbon dioxide, which is carried back to your lungs which you then you breath out.
Oxygen is an important component in helping your body produce energy to keep you moving, especially when doing long duration workouts as in most group exercise classes and of course, when you are working with your trainer. Oxygen and blood flow distribution to your body changes from rest to exercise; as the intensity of the exercise is increased, so will your heart rate, stroke volume, and cardiac output increase to get more blood to your tissues. With more blood going in and out of your heart during exercise, the more oxygen and nutrients go to your muscles and waste is removed more quickly. So as you can deduce, breathing is muy importante when you are working out! You can think of it as every breath you take when exercising is going to feed your muscles with energy so that they can do the work!
What happens if you don’t breath right? It’s not about right or wrong; as long as you are breathing, you are going to be OK. It’s more about breathing appropriately for the type of work you are doing. In normal day to day living, you should breath using your diaphragm, your primary breathing muscle located in between you ribs and stomach region. The yoga mantra, “belly rise, belly fall” is a very good analogy describing the act of normal breathing. Some people breath more shallowly, using their chest muscles to support the breathing process, this can lead to muscle tightness, migraines, anxiety, and dyspnea which is not ideal.
When you are exerting effort, as when you are working out, playing sports, or doing any kind of functional movement where your movements are constantly twisting and changing direction, your breath of course will become more labored. As such, your breath not only should encompass the use of your diaphragm, but also the rest of your abdomen region, and much of your core muscles. This means inhaling by expanding the rib cage, back, and diaphragm then exhaling using the diaphragm, abdomen, and core muscles to force the air out. The process I just described is part of the “drawing in” or “abdominal hollowing” method which helps the body use its core muscles to perform the movement and help prevent injury by supporting the spine and lumbo-pelvic region. This type of breathing has been termed intercostals breathing, back breathing, Pilates breathing, and functional breathing.
Here is a tutorial on how to breath regularly and during exercise.
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- goes hand-in-hand with breathing right! Move it right!
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