How to Breathe while Exercising
Initially, this may seem like a simple concept and one which is often overlooked. Breathing is something that is handled by our subconscious mind most of the time and not often given much thought. This is probably why a lot of people do not consider how to breathe. By taking control of your breathing you can retrain yourself to perform better. If you often feel breathless and struggling for air this is definitely something you should read…
If you learn to breathe properly you can push yourself harder for longer. You can work your muscles more efficiently and feel less tired at the end. Whether you’re Cycling, Running, Hiking, Walking this is something that will make what you’re doing much easier.
Breathing is something you will have to do. You’ll have to do it more when exercising. It is easy to see runners going along, hardly out of breath and assume they are super fit. The likelihood is that they are but they didn’t start there. They are indeed working hard but have learnt to control their breathing in a more effective way.
Take the small wins to get going
Firstly, it is very easy to get carried away. When using Strava it is easy to become disheartened if you weren’t as fast as last time. Don’t do this. Accept you’re going back to step 1 to build yourself up stronger. The aim here is simply to not get out of breath and keep going.
Pick a distance you normally have to slow down and walk or push or stop. Instead of trying to run quickly just breathe deeply. Breath in through your nose for 3 seconds, hold it, breathe out through your mouth for 3 seconds, hold it and repeat. If you find you’re breathing faster, slow down. Do not allow to yourself to get to the point of hyperventilating. It’s much harder to recover from this and you will have to stop. Concentrate on letting your breathing control your speed. Use all of your lungs.
You will start to feel like you’re getting better and gaining fitness very quickly. More than likely you’re just fuelling yourself with oxygen much more efficiently. Also you will save a little energy from not breathing as hard and inefficiently !
Why does this make you so much better ?
Under normal resting breathing you only utilise about 20% of your lung capacity. Instead of rapidly using a small part, try using all of it, breathe deeply and slowly. Rest days are still important but if you feel like you can go and push yourself more often then why not. Well done, you’re starting to learn how to breathe.
Learning how to breathe more efficiently is your first step towards being more efficient. Fuel your muscles with more oxygen. It is easy to assume that breathing faster and heavier will increase the amount of oxygen in your body but it has the opposite effect. Slowing down your breathing will increase your blood-oxygen saturation level.
The Next Steps
Once you have learned to cover that distance you couldn’t do without stopping you can either start speeding it up or you can go further. This is where you can start to see greater fitness gains. Being able to go further or faster or longer, whatever your goal is, is where you can start getting fitter.
Don’t try to do it all at once. Remember you are rebuilding yourself ultimately better than before. If you have to slow down to go further, do it. Build up slowly. This is about pacing yourself so you don’t get exhausted as much as it is about improving. Stay in this zone of not being out of breath and you will build fitness much faster. This is how you can work your muscles more efficiently and reduce fatigue.
A Life Skill to Master
This is truly a skill to master. There are many good videos and guides out there with various different techniques. Ones to give you a burst of speed or ones that might just work better for you. Everybody is different and it is not a one size fits all solution. However, this is a good place to start. In conclusion, all you need to do is keep it slow and deep and allow your breathing to control your pace. Don’t let your pace dictate your breathing.
Once you have mastered this doing whatever you are doing, it translates over to making you better at any other type of aerobic exercise.
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