Proper breathing is essential.
Breathing may seem obvious in relation to physical activity but in reality, do we all do it properly? When I was younger and involved in physical activities, the idea of proper breathing was something I never thought about and often took for granted.
Besides, breathing is something we are all born with, and your body does it on autopilot. Genesis 2:7 says, “Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”
Ideally, we should be breathing through the nose because it slows down our breath, thus making our lungs work more efficiently (Richards, 2020). Another important element is breathing from the belly, as this “pulls the lungs downward, creating negative pressure inside the chest.” (Richards, 2020, para. 17)1
Whether you are someone who enjoys walks, runs, playing sports, or working out, proper breathing is essential.
When I started the journey in obtaining my personal training license, I understood the importance of breathing but not the health benefits. Whether you are someone who enjoys walks, runs, playing sports, or working out, proper breathing is essential. From a physical perspective, proper breathing can aid in improved sleep, increased energy, burning fat, posture, and quality of workouts.
Helps You Sleep Better
Do you ever find it difficult to fall asleep at night? I have found that when I focus on slowing down my breathing and taking deep breaths, I fall asleep much faster. We all live busy lives, and understandably it can be difficult to fall asleep. When we breathe properly, our body will enter a stage of profound relaxation.
Focusing on your breathing can also be beneficial in increasing our energy, in that the more blood flow we get, the more oxygen our body receives. A rise in oxygen levels inevitably increases our energy (TNN, 2020)2. When we feel more energized, our bodies can be more productive.
Breathing also aids in fat loss due to the increased supply of oxygen. The additional oxygen helps the body to burn fat, provides better blood circulation and toning of the abdominal muscles (TNN, 2018).3
Did you know that improper breathing is directly related to poor posture? When you take deep breaths, your lungs will have more air, which incidentally corrects your spine (TNN, 2020). Be sure to focus on deep breathing, and your body will indeed align properly.
More Effective Workouts
Over the years, I never put much thought into how proper breathing can benefit the quality of physical activity and help us achieve maximum results. When you are engaging in physical activity, your body will undoubtedly need more oxygen in order to keep up. Proper breathing enables you to effectively receive more oxygen and at a higher rate so that your muscles can perform while improving blood circulation and the health of your heart (McCoy, 2018)4.
If we specifically look at working out, the general rule is to exhale on exertion so that you achieve maximal results. I cannot express the importance of this because many people feel the need to hold their breath which can lead to something known as valsalva maneuver (holding breath during exertion). Holding your breath must be avoided, especially for older adults, as it can lead to elevated blood pressure and heart rate (Brown, 2017)5.
Reduces Stress And Anxiety
As it relates to the physiological benefits, proper breathing promotes a sense of calm, reduces anxiety and stress, and lowers our blood pressure. When I become anxious, I tend to think that the feeling will subside on its own but often, that is not the case. Generally, when we are overcome with anxiety or stress, we take rapid and short breaths directly from the chest. This is referred to as thoracic breathing, causing dizziness, muscle tension, and increased heart rate (Brown, 2017).
When we are bombarded with these feelings, we should inhale slowly and deeply through our nose for ten seconds while exhaling slowly through our mouth. Taking deep breaths “slows down your heart rate, allows the body to take in more oxygen and ultimately signals the brain to wind down” (TNN, 2020, para. 7).
Rest In God
As I have mentioned already, proper breathing is essential in our everyday life. Although proper breathing is important in relation to fitness and our overall well-being, the most important thing is resting in the Lord and meditating on his word. Matthew 11:28-29 says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls”.
1 Richards, L. How to breathe properly: Guide and tips. (2020, May 18). medicalnewstoday.com
2 TNN. Advantages of Deep Breathing Exercises – Times of India.
3 TNN. Weight loss Tips: Top 4 breathing exercises that can help you lose belly fat – Times of India. (n.d.). The Times of India. Retrieved September 17, 2020
4McCoy, J. (n.d.). Here’s Why the Way You Breathe During a Workout Matters. SELF.
5Brown, L. E. (2017). Strength Training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics