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4 ways to improve your breathingBreathing is one of those things you don’t really think about — until you can’t.  It’s one of those things that many of us take for granted.  Have you ever exerted yourself so hard that you are just completely out of breath?  Oxygen seems like a luxury at that point.  You gasp and gasp and still  can’t seem to get enough.  We tend to put more focus on other aspects of our health but rarely even give a second thought to our breathing.

Deep breathing exercises are a small yet powerful habit that we can do anywhere.   You don’t need any special equipment.  You can do it every day, anywhere.  You may be surprised there are many emotional, psychological and physical benefits to deep, full breathing.  I’ll reveal a few results you can expect from giving your breathing some extra attention.

1. Increased Lung Capacity

Your lungs are like any other muscle.  They can be strengthened with exercise. With regular deep breathing exercises, you can actually train your lungs to expand. This increases your ability to run for extended periods of time.  This is extremely beneficial for half marathon training or marathon training.  Practicing deep breathing exercises can allow you to tap into the full potential of your pulmonary system. It enables you to both intake and distribute oxygenstrong lungs throughout your body more efficiently.

2. Pain Management

Believe it or not, deep breathing exercises can help diminish physical pain. Deep breathing helps to release a chemical called endorphin’s throughout the body, which act as your body’s natural pain killer.  By redirecting your thoughts to your breathing, and focusing on each inhale and exhale, you train your mind to find a state of calm amid physical pain.  This process trains your body to tolerate and endure more physical pain as you continue marathon training.

3. Stress Relief

stress relief

Breathing helps with Stress Relief, but so do these Smiley Face Stress Relief Balls

Think of a moment in your life when you were under a lot of stress.  How did you feel?  How did you deal with the stress?  You might not realize that your body has a subconscious way of dealing with stress.  Short shallow breaths from the chest rather than deep in the lower lungs.  This increases the levels of cortisol and adrenaline in your body, causing an increase in both blood pressure and pulse.  This is an involuntary process that the body initiates to protect itself in times of stress.  The good news is that while you can’t control this automatic stress response, you can control your relaxation response.

Deep, slow breathing, from the diaphragm, stimulates something called the vagus nerve, which is the largest nerve in your body running from the brain to the abdomen.  It is a major part of the nervous system that promotes relaxation, slowing the heart rate, and generally calming the body.  For more cool information about the vagus nerve click here and here.

4. Better Mood and Energy

We all have bad days.  There are days we just feel sluggish and grumpy.  Although this can be attributed to many different factors, one of the most effective ways to instantly boost your energy and mood is to focus on your breathing. Research has shown that changing breathing patterns resulted in significantly different emotional states. In this study, participants were shown proper breathing techniques to combat feelings anxiety and stress.  They found that by spending a just few minutes each day taking deep, full breaths, increases the oxygen and mood boosting hormones like, oxytocin and prolactin to the brain which improves overall mood and energy levels.

how to practice deep breathing

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