10 Deep Breathing Benefits for Chubby People
One way to improve your mental and physical health is to learn more about deep breathing benefits.
Sure breathing is something we all need to do to stay alive, but did you know that deep breathing can actually improve your health? There are so many benefits, both mentally and physically, that can come when you learn and implement the power of deep breathing.
1. Lower stress is one of the key deep breathing benefits
When you are stressed or become anxious, your brain releases a “stress hormone” called cortisol. Deep breathing lowers your heart rate and more oxygen enters the bloodstream.
What is cortisol?
A good way to think of cortisol is as your brain’s alarm system. It’s your body’s main stress hormone. It works together with other parts of your brain to help control mood, motivation, and fear.
According to WebMD, Cortisol plays an important role in a number of things your body does. For example, it:
- Manages how your body uses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
- Keeps inflammation down
- Regulates your blood pressure
- Increases your blood sugar (glucose)
- Controls your sleep/wake cycle
- Boosts energy so you can handle stress and restores balance afterward
Deep breathing benefits and cortisol
The hypothalamus and pituitary glands in your brain know if your blood contains the right level of cortisol. If there’s too much cortisol, your brain adjusts hormone production. The adrenal glands receive these signals and then control the amount of cortisol released. Deep breathing exercises help to lower the cortisol levels in your body.
2. Pain relief
We all have some level of pain in our life. Whether from a physical injury or emotional distress, pain is something we all experience. Both mental and physical pain, if not managed, can affect the quality of your life. The key is effective pain management.
Physical pain and deep breathing benefits
Pain in the physical body can be classified into two groups, acute pain, and chronic pain. Acute pain is typically sudden and has a short duration. Chronic lasts much longer and may be resistant to medical treatment. Both kinds of pain can be somewhat debilitating and most often affect the state of mind and emotions.
According to WebMD:
“Nearly 70% of people with chronic pain treated with pain medication experience episodes of what’s called breakthrough pain. Breakthrough pain refers to flares of pain that occur even when pain medication is being used regularly. And sometimes it may be the result of pain medication wearing off before it’s time for the next dose.”
Deep breathing exercises signal to the brain to release endorphins, which not only help create good feelings but also combat pain.
Mental trauma can cause us to close off or disconnect from our feelings and emotions. Deep breathing can help to reconnect with those emotions and deal with them in a healthy way.
So what makes breathing so effective in managing emotional pain? It’s difficult to talk your way out of strong emotions like anxiety, anger, or stress. When we reach a highly stressed state, the part of our brain responsible for rational thinking is impaired. This means that logic will be ineffective in regaining control. But with deep breathing techniques and exercises, it’s possible to gain mastery over your mind.
According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR):
“Research shows that different emotions are associated with different forms of breathing, and so changing how we breathe can change how we feel. For example, when you feel joy, your breathing will be regular, deep, and slow. If you feel anxious or angry, your breathing will be irregular, short, fast, and shallow. When you follow breathing patterns associated with different emotions, you’ll actually begin to feel those corresponding emotions.”
3. Better immunity and deep breathing benefits
Let’s first define immunity.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, it is “the ability of an organism to resist a particular infection or toxin by the action of specific antibodies or sensitized white blood cells.”
Deep breathing brings more oxygen into your system. When your blood is fully oxygenated, it carries and absorbs nutrients and vitamins more efficiently. With cleaner blood, your body builds immunity which makes it harder for sickness, viruses, and illnesses to stay put in your system.
4. Releasing toxins from the body
Deep breathing exercises take in more oxygen and release excess carbon dioxide. The respiratory system and breathing handle 70% of cleansing the body’s toxins. Without breathing fully, your body must work harder to release these toxins from your system.
Deep breathing benefits through the exhale of toxins
Oxygen is good for your respiratory system and promotes good health. When you exhale, you release carbon dioxide. But there are other things that flow out of your breath.
Did you know that the human breath contains volatile organic compounds (VOC)’s? This includes compounds like:
- Other alcohols
If that doesn’t motivate you to start some deep breathing I don’t know what will. These toxic gases are in our bodies, so for health’s sake, start deep breathing techniques today!
5. Lowers blood pressure
Breathing in, and breathing out, helps to cause your body and mind to relax. It helps to reach a calmer state with less muscle tension. As your muscles relax, this allows your blood vessels to dilate. This dilation aids in improved circulation and lowers blood pressure. Deep breathing exercises also slow and regulate the heart rate. This has a direct impact on helping to lower your blood pressure.
6. Increases energy
Just how does breathing increase energy?
Each individual cell in your body requires oxygen to function properly. We get the oxygen our cells need as we breathe, 20 percent oxygen and the rest of the air is mostly nitrogen (79%). Your body cells use oxygen to get energy from the food you eat. This process is called cellular respiration.
During this process, the cells use oxygen to break down sugar which produces the energy your body needs. This is very similar to wood burning in a fire. When the cell uses oxygen to break down sugar, oxygen is used, carbon dioxide is produced, and energy is released. Most of the energy produced during cellular respiration is stored chemically for the cell to use later.
The more oxygen that is in the blood, the better our body functions. It also improves our stamina.
7. Increases productivity
Breathing can help you get a raise at work.
Let me explain how this is possible. Productivity issues are tied to stress or anxiety in some way. Deadlines, meetings, and micromanaging supervisors, can be the cause of business stress and anxiety. Practicing deep breathing can reduce stress and anxiety, the influx of oxygen gives your brain the fuel it needs to attain new levels of productivity and creativity. You come up with a brilliant idea. You get a raise at work.
Workplace deep breathing benefits
An article on Entrepreneur.com lays it out this way.
“Begin by removing distractions and find a place to sit or lay comfortably. Take a normal breath and then slowly breathe in through your nose. Allow your lower belly and chest to expand as the lungs fill and slowly exhale through your mouth. Do this for five to 10 minutes until the stress fades and you are able to focus again. Ideally, this should become a daily habit that lasts between 10 and 20 minutes a day. Making it a regular practice lowers overall stress levels and can boost concentration and productivity throughout the day.
It is easy to take our personal spaces for granted. When something becomes familiar we often overlook it and fail to notice when it becomes detrimental to our health and well-being. Indoor air quality can deteriorate slowly and begin impacting our health in subtle ways that are completely unnoticeable at first. If you find you’ve had more difficulty focusing and maintaining appropriate levels of productivity, take the time to evaluate your space. A few changes could be all it takes to re-ignite your creative spark.”
8. Improves digestion.
Better gut health just by breathing more.
Many of the other benefits of deep breathing relate to various systems in the body. One area of the body that is out of whack, causes problems in other areas. Here’s an instance:
Shallow breathing occurs when you’re under stress. Reminiscent of our caveman days, known as the “fight or flight” response. This is when adrenaline in the body kicks in. Breathing quickens to channel more oxygen to the muscles to prepare to attack the saber tooth tiger or run away from it. The issue here is that blood flow to other systems, like the digestive system, becomes compromised.
Inflammation in the gut
As a result, prolonged or frequent periods of stress and anxiety can interfere with the digestive system, hampering its normal functions. This leads to increased chances of inflammation. Over time, this destructive process can weaken the immune system, leaving the body more vulnerable to infections, viruses, and illnesses.
The more you practice deep breathing exercises, the healthier blood flow you will produce. This promotes your organs to function more efficiently and effectively, including your gut and your whole digestive system.
9. Enhances calmness
This is probably the most obvious benefit of deep breathing. When looking at the list, this one seems like a no-brainer. That said, some people may not be convinced. Okay, here’s some science.
Harvard Medical School cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson developed the “relaxation response” in 1970, to help people deal with stress. It is a state of profound rest through meditation, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation.
One study using this method “provides the first compelling evidence that relaxation response elicits specific gene expression changes in short-term and long-term practitioners. Our results suggest consistent and constitutive changes in gene expression resulting from relaxation response may relate to long-term physiological effects.”
Relaxation response and deep breathing benefits
What does all that mean? Gene expression is the process by which the instructions in our DNA (genes) are changed into a functional product. So, people who use the relaxation response saw changes in the genetic code which had long-term physical benefits.
Here are the guidelines for a relaxation response session taken from Dr. Benson.
“Following are six relaxation techniques that can help you evoke the relaxation response and reduce stress
In this simple, powerful technique, you take long, slow, deep breaths (also known as abdominal or belly breathing). As you breathe, you gently disengage your mind from distracting thoughts and sensations. Breath focus can be especially helpful for people with eating disorders to help them focus on their bodies in a more positive way. However, this technique may not be appropriate for those with health problems that make breathing difficult, such as respiratory ailments or heart failure.
This technique blends breath focus with progressive muscle relaxation. After a few minutes of deep breathing, you focus on one part of the body or group of muscles at a time and mentally release any physical tension you feel there. A body scan can help boost your awareness of the mind-body connection. If you have had a recent surgery that affects your body image or other difficulties with body image, this technique may be less helpful for you.
For this technique, you conjure up soothing scenes, places, or experiences in your mind to help you relax and focus. You can find free apps and online recordings of calming scenes—just make sure to choose imagery you find soothing and that has personal significance. Guided imagery may help you reinforce a positive vision of yourself, but it can be difficult for those who have intrusive thoughts or find it hard to conjure up mental images.
This practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing, and bringing your mind’s attention to the present moment without drifting into concerns about the past or the future. This form of meditation has enjoyed increasing popularity in recent years. Research suggests it may be helpful for people with anxiety, depression, and pain.
Yoga, tai chi, and qigong
These three ancient arts combine rhythmic breathing with a series of postures or flowing movements. The physical aspects of these practices offer a mental focus that can help distract you from racing thoughts. They can also enhance your flexibility and balance. But if you are not normally active, have health problems, or have a painful or disabling condition, these relaxation techniques might be too challenging. Check with your doctor before starting them.
For this technique, you silently repeat a short prayer or phrase from a prayer while practicing breath focus. This method may be especially appealing if religion or spirituality is meaningful to you.
Rather than choosing just one technique, experts recommend sampling several to see which one works best for you. Try to practice for at least 20 minutes a day, although even just a few minutes can help. But the longer and the more often you practice these relaxation techniques, the greater the benefits and the more you can reduce stress.”
10. Supports correct posture
Deep breathing techniques typically have an upright posture component.
Next time you do deep breathing techniques, notice that you simultaneously lengthen and straighten your spine. Notice the physiology of the process. To take a deep breath in, your lungs need maximum space, so your diaphragm pulls down, and your torso straightens in order to facilitate this. Amazing!
If you got through all of that and actually tried to do some of the techniques, and you’re still not a believer, I don’t know what to say.
The evidence is clear. The science is sound. The results can be life-altering. Your life can improve in so many ways by doing something so simple. Start doing deep breathing exercises today. You’ll thank me later.