Friday, September 10, 2010

How important is breathing while exercising?

Breathing right is one important aspect people forget to do during exercises. Do not hold your breath. Holding the breath while exercising (while applying force) causes Valsalva maneuver. Valsalva maneuver is performed by forcible exhalation against a closed airway, usually done by closing one's mouth and pinching one's nose shut. This causes increase in blood pressure, strains blood vessels and many other health issues. Breathing is very important. During exercise there is a high demand for oxygen by the exercising muscles and if we hold our breath we are halting the natural process of the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide gases that takes place in our bodies. This causes depletion of oxygen to the muscles and brain and causes fatigue.

Our natural tendency is to hold our breath while engaging in activities like lifting, pushing, pulling etc. We are so used to doing this that we also do our exercises in the same manner. And because of this we cannot finish our exercise bout effectively.

There is a proper technique of breathing while exercising. During weight training one should make sure to exhale during exertion. For e.g. if you are doing a biceps curls, you should breathe out while curling up (flexing) and breathe in while coming back to the starting position. It’s simple, just remember exhale on positive contraction and inhale on negative contraction. E.g. in a biceps curl the positive is up movement and negative is down movement.
That’s about breathing the right way during weight training. What about during aerobic or cardiovascular training? It’s simple, do not over exert yourself, and reduce the intensity on the first sign of hyperventilation (rapid breathing which causes abnormal loss of carbon dioxide). Taking slow and deep breaths will help you recuperate if you are breathing heavy.
Don’t forget to breathe during abdominal exercises and stretching. During abdominal exercises for e.g. while doing abdominal crunches, remember to apply the same technique; breathe out on crunching movement and breathe in on down movement.
So remember, whatever exercise you are engaged in, whether its weight training, aerobic training, abdominal exercises or stretching, do not hold your breath. In order to get this breathing technique right, one has to practice it and in no time will do it without thinking.

Now that you learnt how to breathe right go and put it to practice and do a big favor to your heart, muscles and the brain that want that big dose of oxygen during exercise.

Stay Healthy!  

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