It's easy to focus on exercises like push-ups, squats, running, etc., but how often do we ever really stop to focus on our breathing? When we exercise, it's important to breathe properly. Yet, even at rest or simply going about our daily routine, we may not be breathing at an optimal level.
Oxygen. When we are breathing properly, we provide a sufficient amount of oxygen for every cell in our body. Our bodies are better able to metabolize food properly and to rid itself of all the noxious gaseous by-products of metabolism, especially carbon dioxide. Our brains also require much more oxygen compared to any other organ in the body because brain cells have a high rate of of metabolism.
It is easy to take how we breathe for granted because it happens automatically. Most of us are shallow chest breathers. That means we are only breathing at a fraction of our full capacity. Proper breathing should be done using the diaphragm and ribs to fill and empty the lungs. We often don't consider how focusing on our breathing can affect our health.
I learned about the benefits of breathing better from a tv program (which I can't recall the name of) in which the topic was about anxiety and stress. During this time in my life, I was dealing with anxiety to the point where I would become afraid of leaving the house for fear of having a panic attack. I began doing deep belly breathing and it helped to reduce my anxiety tremendously. Many sufferers of anxiety and panic attacks practice deep belly breathing to help reduce symptoms.
There are several types of breathing exercises which you can learn. I recommend starting off with learning how to deep belly breathe. It is great for calming yourself and reducing stress. Here are a few others to consider:
I think everyone has at least one piece of advice to share when it comes to health and fitness. You don't need to be a certified personal trainer to share a bit of your own wisdom. Everyone learns something along their own personal journey of wellness. I'll start with a few lessons I've learned along the way, in no particular order.
1. Don't Spend Every Minute Focusing On Results
There was a time I would weigh myself every day and if I gained a pound, I'd spend the day wondering how it could have happened when I'm exercising often. It's better to focus on activity and let the results happen on their own.
2. "Clean", "Dirty", "Bad", "Cheat Meal" Foods - Plus a Steaming Cup of Guilt
I think sometimes I focus too much on labeling what I decide to eat. There have been plenty of times that I've eaten something and have made myself feel guilty for it. Part of it has come from my being used to referring to certain foods as "clean", "bad", or a "cheat meal." I have common sense and I know not to let 80% of my diet consist of junk. Eating ice cream or a burger on occasion shouldn't make me feel guilty.
3. Variety is the Spice of Life, Especially for Exercise
I need variety in my workouts in order to prevent boredom. I like simple exercises and I like finding body weight exercises and putting them together to create a circuit. I use my Gymboss interval timer to do timed circuits. Between that and P90X workouts, I'm a happy camper.
4. Your Turn
Share a bit of your health and fitness wisdom in the comments. 🙂
1. Get enough sleep - This seems pretty obvious but how many of us actually get 8 hours of sleep per night? Several restorative processes occur while we are sleeping and lack of enough sleep night after night will cause you to feel sluggish during the day. When we sleep is also a factor. Getting to bed before 10 pm is ideal as growth hormone which is needed for lean muscle and immune function is secreted between 11 pm and 1 am. [Source: About.com]
2. Don't skip meals - Particularly breakfast as it gives that initial boost of energy we need to get the day started.
3. Learn to breathe better - Many adults spend their day chest breathing (shallow breathing.) Diaphragmatic breathing (deep belly breathing) gets us to take in more oxygen and it also helps to reduce stress.
4. Drink more water - It is so easy to become dehydrated during the day. Lack of water can also cause fatigue. Cut back on the coffee and other soft drinks by swapping them out with water instead.
5. Cut back on the sugar - Eating refined sugar can give you a jolt in energy but it is also followed by a rapid drop in blood sugar which leaves you feeling like you need a nap.
6. Take a walk - If you feel a drop in energy during your day, stop and take a walk outside. A quick 10-minute walk can boost energy and the effects can last up to two hours. [Source: WebMD.com]
7. Consider a multivitamin - B-vitamins are known to increase energy. A good multivitamin should have the daily recommended dose of B-vitamins.
8. Make plans - Working all day is draining, especially if you are under stress to get projects done. Plan fun things during the week so that you have something to look forward to. Make after-work time your fun time. Leave work at work. You'll feel more energetic knowing you have something exciting to look forward to after the work day.
9. Exercise - Getting enough exercise not only increases energy levels, it also is a great way to relieve stress. Balance your workout with enough cardio as well as resistance training.
10. Power nap - Most of us aren't able to take a nap during our day but if you can fit one in, a short nap can bring relief from a hectic day and energize you to finish out the rest of it.