Proper breathing to improve performance is not just because your body needs the oxygen, but is also about properly regulating life-giving oxygen into your body, but also works out the lungs to enhance your fitness capability.
You often see athletes compete by giving it their all and sometimes you can even hardly notice that there are certain unnoticeable processes that help them develop their physical capabilities and bring it up a notch and proper breathing is one of those.
Professional fitness trainer and writer Lara McGlashan discusses the importance of perfecting the process of breathing to improve physical performance and why it is so.
BREATHE LIKE AN ATHLETE
Breathing. We usually don’t think much about it; our bodies simply make it happen autonomously like it does digestion and circulation. But then you sprint to catch the bus, carry your toddler up two flights of stairs or kill it in your WOD. Suddenly you’re gasping for air, desperately sucking O2 like a beached cod. At these times breathing becomes a voluntary activity, and the way you inhale and exhale could actually affect athletic performance.
“Proper breathing is one of the most overlooked resources in sports and fitness,” says Laurenn Cutshaw, a former collegiate gymnast and vice president of marketing and branding for Yoga Six. “The movement of air in and out of our lungs facilitates an exchange of oxygen that every cell in the body needs to survive and perform.”
Improper breathing can hinder performance since CO2 is not properly cleared, thereby causing a buildup of waste and altering the pH of the body. “And if you reduce oxygen to muscles, there is also less O2 available for ATP production to assist with lactic-acid buffering,” says Ben Greenfield, NSCA trainer of the year and owner of Greenfield Fitness Systems in Spokane, Wash.
Check out these activities and their expert-recommended breathing techniques. Try them out for yourself and see if you can breathe a little easier.
AEROBIC ACTIVITY / MODERATE INTENSITY
Aerobic literally means “with oxygen,” and cardiovascular activities that involve long durations of time and distance require efficient breathing techniques and greater diaphragmatic integrity. Enter rhythmic nasal breathing.
“During endurance activities you’re trying to inhale more than you exhale,” Greenfield explains. “When running, for example, take one deep breath through your nose for three foot strikes and exhale through your nose for the next two foot strikes. As you increase the intensity, change the pattern to a 2:1 ratio of breath to foot strike.”
Nasal breathing can also be used to control your pace and help keep you cool under pressure. “During endurance activities such as running, biking and swimming, an even, rhythmic breath cadence helps maintain heart rate and has a very calming effect on the body,” says Cutshaw.
ANAEROBIC ACTIVITY / HIGH INTENSITY
Anaerobic activities are done in the absence of oxygen, and in an event of short distance, breathing is something of a moot point. “A 100-meter dash involves very little breathing; usually you’ll see sprinters inhale at the command of ‘set’ and then take off,” states Jacques DeVore, CSCS, cycling coach for USA Cycling and owner of Sirens and Titans Fitness in Los Angeles.
Once you start lengthening the sprint distance, however, breathing becomes more of a factor. “Your body becomes exhausted of creatine and you need to get oxygen on board to burn glucose and power the activity,” says Greenfield. In that kind of situation, breathing through your mouth becomes the most efficient way to deliver oxygen to needy tissues.
There is a downside, however: “Breathing through your nose may lead to tightening of the facial muscles,” explains Jonathan Mike, Ph.D., CSCS, assistant professor of exercise science at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo. “When sprinting, your entire body — including your facial muscles — should remain in a relaxed state, with your mouth open slightly, to deliver the most oxygen.” Read full article
Can one really lose weight or burn fat by breathing? It may seem preposterous, but in fact there is a science to it.
Here is a perspective from wellness author and speaker Mila Diamond on how breathing can help you improve your well-being and fitness.
Lose Weight by Breathing… Really!
The amount of oxygen in our blood determines whether we have enough energy and the rate of our aging. Breathing is probably the most important function of the body and oxygen is, by far, the most vital element for staying alive. Your brain cannot function without oxygen. Without sufficient oxygen, the brain literally shuts down.
You would think that we know how to breathe properly! We have been breathing our whole life. However, we often take shallow breaths or, even worse, hold our breath when we are under pressure or are intensely focused on a task. This lowers the oxygen level in our system causing fatigue and lack of clarity. As a result, we often make poor decisions in those stressful situations when we need to be our best.
Leading a sedentary lifestyle or sitting for extended periods in front of the computer or TV also creates a serious oxygen deficit. Have you ever noticed that you may actually feel exhausted after vegging out in front of TV? How could you feel so tired when you didn’t do much? Your fatigue is caused by a lack of oxygen.
Oxygen is a highly flammable substance that speeds up chemical reactions. In the body, oxygen thins the blood a little which helps lower your blood pressure and speed up the flow of blood. This increases your metabolism and burns more calories. The more oxygen you have in your blood the faster your metabolism will be. You burn fewer calories sitting in a stuffy room versus sitting outside in the fresh air. Cool air causes an additional increase in your metabolic rate because you need to expend more energy to keep the body at a comfortable temperature. The more oxygen in your bloodstream, the more energy you will have, the clearer your head will feel, and the more calories you will burn.
Your oxygen intake is much higher when exercising in nature versus exercising inside a gym. You burn more calories exercising outside!
When you are physically active your breathing becomes deeper and you receive more oxygen. More vigorous exercising causes an even greater demand for oxygen. A greater demand forces you to breathe faster and deeper so that more oxygen will enter your bloodstream. Some fitness fanatics will even go so far as to hook up to an oxygen machine while on a treadmill. In our humble opinion, this is completely unnecessary. In fact, in our own experiments, using medical grade oxygen machines did not create noticeable results. Also, be aware that oxygen can be toxic at high concentrations! To get the most benefit you simply need oxygen-rich fresh air. The easiest (and usually the cheapest) way to get this is by exercising in nature when possible. Trees and plants generate healthy, oxygen-rich air. Get out in nature as often as you can. Plan a hike, take a bike ride, or do some other form of activity while you are outside.
This all sounds great, but what if you are stuck at the office sitting in front of the computer for hours? What if you are too busy to fit in an hour or two of aerobic exercise into your day? We have good news for you! Deep, active breathing can increase your oxygen intake even when done for just 1 to 2 minutes at a time! Read full article
Yes, it’s true. Your eyes are not playing tricks and indeed, there are actually several breathing exercises that can help activate your abdominal muscles to ensure that you get shredded and at the same time lose fat while you’re at it.
The Fit Indian health writer Deblina Biswas gives you a compilation of the most effective breathing exercises that can actually help burn fat and lets you lose those pesky love handles.
Top 10 Breathing Exercises to Lose Belly Fat – Abdominal Exercises
Belly fat is the most irritating accumulation of fat around the abdomen region. This is a dangerous health hazard because it can cause many internal problems. The most frequent problems faced by people with belly fat are high cholesterol, heart stroke, hypertension, heart attack, diabetes and many others. This belly fat is very stubborn and to shed and will often take many months or years to vanish. You either need to go to the gym, do ab exercises and crunches or choose to do cardiovascular exercises along with a weight loss diet such as a simple 1200 calorie diet plan. But many of us don’t like to sweat it out in the gym, and the best and easy way to deal with your belly fat would be breathing exercises.
Deep breathing exercise is the best exercise to reduce belly fat which helps you in shaping up in a relaxed manner. One can eliminate the fat present on top of the abdominal muscles with these breathing exercises. Breathing exercises are gaining a lot of popularity nowadays as they are really effective in the abdominal area. These exercises are known as pranayama, usually associated with yoga. They help you gain health and longevity; they also improve digestion by strengthening abdominal muscles. It is an art and needs to be practiced with care. Read on and watch the videos
As you understand the effects breathing to enhance performance, it is always very important to know that no matter how simple it may be, mastering the breathing process does give you your edge in giving you the optimum performance you need.
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