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Proper Breathing While Exercising. Why is it important?

During my recent visits to the gym, I couldn't help but observe a common trend among the gym-goers. It seems that many individuals are consistently glued to their phones while engaging in their workout routines.

I witnessed a young lady casually talking on the phone, as she powered through her deadlifts. Similarly, another gym-goer was alternating between a specific exercise, texting messages for extended periods, and then returning to complete only half a set before getting distracted once again. This distracted approach not only compromises the effectiveness of their exercises but also raises concerns about safety and overall fitness awareness. How tuned in are we to our bodies and each exercise? Are we hitting the right muscles, and is the weight appropriate for us?

In the world of fitness, we often focus on the intensity of our workouts, the types of exercises we engage in, and the duration of our training sessions. While these aspects are undeniably crucial, one fundamental element that often goes overlooked is the way we breathe during exercise. Proper breathing is a cornerstone of a successful and effective workout routine, contributing not only to physical performance but also to overall wellbeing.

The Physiology of Breathing

Before exploring the importance of proper breathing during exercise, let's explore the physiology of breathing. The respiratory system, i.e. lungs and respiratory muscles, plays a key role in supplying oxygen to the body and removing carbon dioxide. During exercise, the demand for oxygen increases, and efficient breathing becomes essential to meet the heightened metabolic needs.

Benefits of Proper Breathing During Exercise

Enhanced Oxygen Delivery:

Efficient breathing ensures a steady supply of oxygen to working muscles. Oxygen is a crucial component in the energy production process, allowing the body to convert nutrients into usable energy. Proper breathing optimises this process, enhancing overall endurance and performance.

Improved Stamina and Endurance:

Consistent, rhythmic breathing helps maintain a steady flow of oxygen to the muscles, delaying the onset of fatigue. This improved stamina allows individuals to sustain their efforts for longer, leading to more effective and rewarding workouts.

Better Core Engagement:

Focused breathing techniques, such as diaphragmatic breathing, engage the core muscles. This not only supports the spine and improves posture but also aids in stability during various exercises. Strengthening the core contributes to better balance and reduces the risk of injury.

Stress Reduction and Mental Focus:

Deep, controlled breathing has a calming effect on the nervous system, reducing stress and anxiety levels. Incorporating mindful breathing into workouts promotes mental focus and concentration, enhancing the mind-body connection for a more mindful training experience.

Efficient Waste Removal:

Breathing not only brings oxygen into the body but also facilitates the removal of carbon dioxide, a byproduct of energy metabolism. Effective breathing supports the body's natural detoxification processes, aiding in the elimination of waste products.

Practical Tips for Proper Breathing

Diaphragmatic Breathing:

Practice breathing deeply from the diaphragm rather than shallow chest breathing. This technique maximises oxygen intake and again engages the core muscles.

Coordinate Breathing with Movement:

Sync your breath with the rhythm of your exercises. For example, inhale during the eccentric phase (lengthening) and exhale during the concentric phase (shortening) of a movement.

Stay Consistent:

Maintain a steady and consistent breathing pattern throughout your workout. Avoid holding your breath, as this can lead to increased tension and diminished performance.

Incorporate Mindful Practices:

Consider integrating mindfulness and meditation techniques into your routine to enhance your awareness of breath and nurture a more mindful approach to exercise.

Proper breathing is not just a technical aspect of exercise; it is the bridge between the physical and mental dimensions of our wellbeing. By prioritising and impriving our breathing techniques, we unlock the full potential of our workouts, promoting optimal physical performance, mental clarity, and overall health. So, the next time you hit the gym or embark on a run, pay attention to your breath—it might just be the missing link to unlocking your fitness potential.


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