Breathe or Die

Ok, now I have your attention, let’s talk about breathing and it’s relationship to exercising.

We breathe in, we breathe out, every second of the day, we never give it another thought. Why? simple, it is an automatic nerve response controlled by the brain, we do not need to worry about it, until it goes wrong or we struggle with our breathing.

Yet, our breathing is controlled by muscles, do we ever consider exercising them?, and I mean just exercising these muscles on their own, not whilst we exercise, I very much doubt we do.

Quick anatomy lesson, we have two types of respiratory muscles, inspiratory (Breathe in) and expiratory (Breathe out). I will not get more technical than this, and that’s the anatomy lesson over.

No matter how fit we are, beginner, intermediate or advanced, we will reach a point when we need to breathe deeper, or get out of breath. This often happens when we begin to exercise, move quicker, or move in a way we are not used to.

This can often put people off exercising, thinking, they cannot do this, or preventing them pushing on beyond the out of breathe point.

I gave this a lot of thought, especially whilst I was doing my fitness training, as we are trained to check breathing regularly using a scale of 1-4 (Easy), 5-7 (Moderate), 8-10 (Hard).

My thinking was simple, why do we not teach breathing exercises prior to actual exercise itself, especially with beginners, the elderly or infirm. This would help them get ready for exercise, and take an element of fear out of exercise itself.

I researched the subject, and was surprised to find lots of information on exercising our respiratory muscles on their own. I found it is not just for people who have breathing difficulties, in fact, top athletes actually benefit from respiratory training.

Try this…breathe in deeply through your nose, then exhale through your mouth slowly…the exhale should always be longer than the inhale. I use my hands when I exhale, a bit like conducting an orchestra as I find it helps control the exhale.

Now I begin my fitness training with people who think they cannot exercise, beginners, the elderly, infirm, with breathing exercises…I often include it in PT’s with clients and classes, as it helps explain the importance of breathing exercises and it’s benefits to our day to day lives.

Try this…breathe in deeply through your nose, then exhale through your mouth slowly…the exhale should always be longer than the inhale. I use my hands when I exhale, a bit like conducting an orchestra as I find it helps control the exhale.

Do this for 1 minute, once in the morning and once in the evening…no excuses, you can do this sitting in bed, on the toilet, anywhere in fact. If you do just this for 1-week, you will be pleasantly surprised how less out of breathe you get by walking upstairs, round the garden, or just walking quicker in general.

This simple exercise can be progressed by holding your breathe for 5 seconds, breathing out, and repeating every other breathe, again for 1 minute. Suddenly you have nearly 5mins of simple breathing exercises.

You can also purchase breathing exercise machines, google it, you will be surprised how many there are, and these are for everyone.

Exercising your breathing really works…try it!

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