This month’s discussion is on proper breathing. You may wonder, why talk about breathing. Yes, breathing is an autonomic (involuntary) function of the body. Breathing also can be done voluntarily and used as a tool to increase our energy, awareness, boost our immune system or control anxiety.
We are a nation of shallow breathers. Experts think that only 25% of Americans fully use their lung capacity. Shallow breathing can lead to hyperventilation, light-headedness and increased muscle tension.
Breathing not only affects our respiratory system but every system in our body. If we do not have enough oxygen for our cells to utilize our health can become compromised.
The following thoughts can help you remember that you need to breathe!
A – Anxiety worsens when you are holding your breath or hyperventilating. Typically, we are not even conscious we are doing so. Practicing breathing exercise can help you feel anxiety leaving your body.
B- Breathe correctly. When you inhale your stomach should expand; when you exhale your stomach should contract. Try this exercise: lie down, put your hand on your stomach and breathe naturally. Is your stomach expanding while breathing in? If not, make it a habit to check several times a day to correct your breathing if necessary.
C- Conquer stress. During times of extreme stress our body goes into survival mode. Our bodies are primed for battle by secreting hormones that increase our alertness and awareness. Adrenalin and other hormones cause the blood to be diverted away from our internal organs to our extremities for ‘fight or flight’. This autonomic reaction is a primal response programmed for survival since humans lived in caves. There is another possible response – freezing. Sometimes we are paralyzed from overload. Proper breathing helps reduce these stress-induced hormones.
D – Dancing with the Stars. Those cardio workouts make your lungs more efficient and maximize the benefits of proper breathing. Practicing the deep breathing in points A and B help you get the greatest benefit out of your cardio routines.