Breathe in, breathe out simple right ? Not so fast. When it comes to exercise, the art of inhaling and exhaling may be a little more complicated than we think. Should we breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth?
Whether the goal is running, lifting, or single leg balance with ease, read on to discover the best breathing techniques to put your goals well within reach.
You’re Action Plan:
Whether it’s time to hit the pilates mat, track, or squat rack, breathing isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind (not falling on your face tends to take priority). But smooth and efficient breathing is crucial for delivering the oxygen our bodies need to function properly.
Proper breathing can also help you exercise longer, and even calm the mind. With a little extra awareness—and some practise that personal best could be just a few breaths away. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:
Nailing the right running form, tempo, and strategy can be challenging enough, but a runner’s work doesn’t end there. Huffing and puffing your way around the track won’t get you to the finish line. In fact, studies show that improper breathing technique can impair speed and performance.
While there’s no golden rule, many runners find it most comfortable to take one breath for every two foot strikes, This means taking two steps (one left, one right) while breathing in and two steps while breathing out—also known as the 2:2 rhythm.Because the diaphragm and surrounding organs are all subject to the forces of gravity, synchronizing the breath to running cadence will keep the organs from putting unnecessary pressure on the diaphragm, which can impede breathing (and make running more uncomfortable than it needs to be).
High-intensity sports can literally take our breath away thanks to the demanding cardio component and the barrage of cross plane movements.
How to do it right:
Breathing muscles are an integral part of the core stabilizing and postural control systems, Intuitively, this means when anticipating a load or an impact, it’s best to take a deep breath and then brace the core. Not only will this make us more difficult to knock over, it will also help protect the spine.
Go big or go home:
While there isn’t one correct way to breathe on the playing field or while running, the breath should come from the diaphragm (the most efficient breathing muscle)—not the chest. “In general, the rib cage should expand in a 3D pattern, top to bottom, back to front, and to the sides.
Aerobic activity isn’t the only exercise that can benefit from good breathing form. Anyone who hits the weights regularly has probably heard exhaling on the exertion (or effort phase) of an exercise is the way to go. It’s sound logic: Contracting the respiratory muscles will help brace the load during heavier lifts while maintaining lumbar stability .
How to do it right:
Using the bench press as an example, exhale slowly and continuously while pressing the bar, then inhale at the top of the lift or on the return. Just remember that once that barbell is pressed, the weight doesn’t vanish, so be sure to keep the core engaged to protect the spine, similar to preparing for impact during contact sports.
When in doubt:
Don’t forget to breathe out! Holding the breath increases pressure inside the chest (which is good for stability), but holding it too long can impede the return of blood to the heart and raise blood pressure definitely not the goal here.