How often do you really think about your breathing? It is such a natural act we never put our attention to our breathing. By focusing on our breath there are many health benefits that go along with proper breathing. When it comes to your workout regimen it is vital that you breath properly for your own safety.
Breathing is our life force without it we would die. We can live without food for days but without our breath we last only minutes. By breathing effectively you are literally feeding your body just as you do with food. When you inhale, your body increases the supply of a chemical called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). By getting the proper amounts of oxygen to the body you will help purify your blood which will lead to a healthier mind and body.
Breathing will help you relax when you are anxious and stressed. The breath acts like a massage for the nervous system. It will help calm your nervous system, so when you find yourself anxious and stressed, stop, take a few deep breaths and calm your mind and body.
If you find yourself getting fatigued or falling asleep, take a few deep breaths to get the oxygen flow back to the brain and perk you up a bit. This is another great benefit to proper breathing.
Now, why breathing is so important when you exercise. First, when you begin to exercise your brain recognizes the increase in carbon dioxide and lactic acid (a by-product of exercising). When this happens your brain automatically tells your body to breath heavier to increase the intake of oxygen. Here is where you need to start paying close attention to your breath, control your breathing by taking bigger inhales and slower exhales. You will find that you will be able to sustain your intensity levels a bit longer by controlling your breath.
When it comes to weight lifting, it is critical you DON'T hold your breath. By holding your breath during exercise the blood pressure will go to your head. This can cause dizziness, light-headiness and headaches, as well as putting a lot of pressure on your heart you want to avoid. When you are working out remember to exhale on the release of the contraction and inhale on the contraction of a given movement. For example, on a bicep curl, exhale while you are curling the bar toward you and inhale while you release the bar down. This will help your body relax through a movement and your body will gain the results of your workout, increased strength, speed and performance.
Deep breathing during your cool down will help stimulate the recovery process. You want to replenish the oxygen you have just used during your workout. This will also help limit the lactic acid build up and help keep soreness at bay.
In short, remember to breath. It seems simple but easy to forget. The breath is life and it can help you in so many ways, not just your workouts.