By Live Well 360 Guest Blogger Jessica Josh
Perhaps your breathing is the last thing you think about while you’re exercising. If so, you are not alone.
Because breathing is something that happens automatically, it can be easily forgotten.
But how you breathe when you exercise can have a huge impact on the way your body responds to what you’re doing. It can help you avoid injury.
What happens when we breathe?
Breathing is the process through which the body draws air in and extracts the oxygen from it for use in the bloodstream. Oxygen helps our bodies to unlock the energy that is stored in the food we eat.
When you breathe in, your diaphragm contracts and pulls down towards the abdomen. The muscles between your ribs contract and pull upwards, opening the space inside your lungs and drawing air in.
Some of the air drawn into your lungs will reach the alveoli. The alveoli are tiny sacs where the gases now in the lungs are exchanged with gases in the bloodstream. Oxygen goes into the blood, carbon dioxide is drawn out.
When you breathe out, the diaphragm and the muscles between the ribs relax. This puts pressure on the lungs and forces the air out of them, along with the gases that the body doesn’t need.
While you’re exercising, your body needs more oxygen to keep your muscles supplied with blood and keep its energy levels up. Breathing properly while you’re exercising will make sure your muscles are getting the oxygen and energy they need.
How to breathe during exercise
If your breathing does not draw in more oxygen while you’re exercising, the carbon dioxide level in your blood and tissues will rise.
This can lead to a whole range of health problems.
Not breathing at all during exercise, even just for short periods, will raise your blood pressure. This can lead to light-headedness and fainting.
Importance of breathing
It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to breathe while doing your exercise regimen.
There is some evidence to suggest that breathing deeply, while it draws more air into the lungs, doesn’t necessarily mean more oxygen gets into the blood.
It does mean more carbon dioxide is drawn out of the blood. Because the body monitors carbon dioxide levels and not oxygen levels, deep breaths might unhelpfully trick your body into thinking it needs to breathe less.
This leaves you with an insufficient amount of oxygen in your bloodstream. Shallow breathing, however, can be a sign that you’re working too hard, especially during cardio exercise. Somewhere in between is probably ideal.
Find your rhythm
Perhaps the most important thing to aim for with your breathing during exercise is a steady rhythm. A steady breath will deliver a reliable supply of oxygen to your bloodstream.
Finding a steady rhythm for your breath when you first start an exercise session gives you a good way to measure your limits. It helps you avoid injury. Exercise should only be as intense as you can handle while still maintaining a steady breath.
Jessica Josh is a freelancer who loves writing about health, well being, sporting injuries and articles for www.shouldersurgerysydney.com.au
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