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Proper breathing techniques can help you exercise longer and calm your mind. Here are the best breathing techniques to optimize your performance in any exercise:
Running and Cardio
While doing any form of cardio exercise, it’s important to practice diaphragmatic breathing, allowing for better oxygen delivery. Try it this way:
- Relax your abdominals slightly. Pulling them in too tightly or sucking in your stomach will limit how fully your can breathe.
- Breathe deeply. Your belly—not your chest—should rise and fall as you inhale and exhale.
Continue this technique at your own pace to meet your oxygen needs during exercise.
Synchronize your breath with your running cadence. This will keep your organs from putting unnecessary pressure on your diaphragm, making breathing easier. Many runners find that the best way to do this is to take one breath for every two foot strikes.
Studies have determined that breathing through your nose while running has some benefits like increased CO2 saturation in the blood, which can create a calming effect. Some runners, however, find it hard to breathe through their nose and prefer breathing through their mouth. Test out both techniques and see what feels best for you.
High Intensity Sports
Much like running, high intensity team sports require deep breathing from the diaphragm. Many high intensity sports can literally knock the wind out of you. When anticipating a load or an impact such as a tackle, kick, or hit, it’s best to take a deep breath and then brace the core.
Want to psyche out the other team? Deep breathing will help you appear calm and in control, giving you an edge against your opponents.
Weightlifters often hold their breath during lifting, especially when lifting a heavier weight for the first time. This can limit oxygen delivery to the brain, causing many complications such as dizziness, fainting, and a spike in blood pressure. Experts recommend exhaling during the exertion phase and inhaling during the easier phase when lifting weights. This prevents you from holding your breath.
Focusing on your breathing is an essential part of yoga, as it should be in everyday life. Being aware of your breathing brings you back to earth and helps you lead a more mindful life. In yoga, breathing serves a variety of purposes. Yoga has a unique form of breathing called ujjayi. Inhale slowly through your nose for 4-5 heartbeats, pause, then exhale for an equal amount of time. This type of breathing serves as a metronome to time the rhythm of each pose. Start every pose with an inhalation. Exhale when you want to go deeper into a pose or get out of a pose.
Practicing the correct way to breathe while exercising starts with making an effort to notice your breath. Now that you’re mindful about your breathing, consciously practice these various techniques and they’ll most likely become automatic after awhile. If you are able to perfect them, you’ll be able to maximize your potential for success!