Breathing: Uses during exercise

breathing | Breath | meditation | mindfulness

Breathing is something that we need to complete day to day to survive and keep moving, along with the heart and brain, the lungs are probably one of the most vital organs we need to keep in good shape. For the most part it’s done without conscious thought but have you ever considered how you could use it to help in certain situations? In eastern cultures, controlled breathing has been used through modes of meditation such as Yogic breathing for its many health-enhancing and spiritual benefits. Breathing techniques are used to aid performance in sports and exercises, as a tool in mindfulness practices or to help with pain or guarded movements.

Breathing techniques and methods have developed over time and have become increasingly popular due to their usefulness in a wide variety of scenarios. At EmPower we find them most useful in managing blood pressure, increasing ease of breathing with lung conditions such as COPD, in bracing for big lifts, assisting mental health as a mindfulness exercise or an anxiety management strategy. 

Breathing can also be a useful measure that can be implemented when completing resistance-based exercises. It ties in very well with bracing techniques for heavier lifts and is important in keeping your blood pressure in check during exercise or helping manage pressure on your pelvic floor. Many of the benefits of breathing for resistance training stem from pressure control.

Our blood pressure does in fact become better regulated when pairing our breathing and exercising, let’s use a push-up as an example. During this exercise, the typical pattern is to lower ourselves downward and then press away back to the starting position. One method that we can use to aid our blood pressure regulation is to inhale on the lowering phase and to exhale on the pressing phase. This allows for the pressure that is built up when holding our breath to be released and for our blood pressure to maintain a lowered state. 

Breathing has also been shown to help reduce things such as stress, anxiety, reduce chronic pain, aid in those with fibromyalgia, cancer patients, overall relaxation, and is a key part of many mindfulness techniques. Some methods that can aid in providing these benefits are:

  • Deep Diaphragmatic breathing
  • Box Breathing or any tempo breathing 
  • Pranayama (breathing control during yoga); and
  • Pursed lip breathing

If you’re ever feeling stressed or want to try and get your breathing in sync with your exercise, give these techniques a try and see how they feel!

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