Breathing correctly before, during, and after physical training can drastically decrease stress and improve flexibility and mobility. Proper breathing allows for the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (PNS) to function at optimal levels. Given the amount of stress related illnesses in our culture, it is believed that we are not breathing very well.

How to Breathe Correctly

Proper breathing involves breathing deep in your diaphragms, which is called diaphragmatic breathing. Here is the rundown on how to practice this type of breathing:

  1. Lay face down on your belly, crossing your hands palm down directly below your forehead.
  2. Breathe in your nose for a 2 second count.
  3. *IMPORTANT: Breathe into your belly button and not into your chest. Your belly should rise, not your chest. Breathing into your belly is considered “stress” breathing and is where most people tend to breathe.
  4. Hold your breath for 3-6 seconds.
  5. Breathe out of your nose for a 4 second count (or longer) and relax.
  6. Repeat for 20+ repetitions. Repeat as often as needed throughout the day (you can never practice this too much).

12 Benefits of Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing

  1. Reduces the risk factors for heart disease such as lowering bad cholesterol (LDL), raising good cholesterol (HDL), lowering blood pressure, and stabilizing blood sugar levels.
  2. Scientific studies support that diaphragmatic breathing may decrease your chance of cancer by as much as 400%.
  3. Helps to lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which is responsible for a host of negative health effects such as stubborn weight gain and inflammation.
  4. Do you find yourself craving junk food? Deep breathing can also help to reduce cravings for processed carbohydrates.
  5. Cuts chances of diabetes by strengthening the insulin beta receptor sites.
  6. Improves quality of sleep by improving Stage 1 and Stage 4 sleep cycle.
  7. Lengthens the cell’s life span by cleansing the cells more thoroughly through increased lymphatic flow.
  8. Slows the aging process by increasing the secretin of human growth hormone (the anti-aging hormone).
  9. Optimizes the immune system by strengthening T-cell formation and improving lymphocyte production.
  10. Improves your mood by elevating the “feel good” hormone, serotonin, and other positive endorphins.
  11. Improves mental focus and concentration by increasing blood flow to the Pre-Frontal Cortex of the brain.
  12. Improves the quality and effectiveness of meditation by changing brain wave activity from the more stressful beta wavelengths to the more relaxing and healthier alpha and theta brain wavelengths.

Important Reminder

The benefits of deep diaphragmatic breathing can only be realized with consistent breathing work. Twenty reps a day is a good start and some consider this meditation time.

Want to Learn More About Breathing?

Fore more learning about breathing, check out this article of Brett Jones with Functional Movement Systems.