Proper Breathing Is Important During Exercise - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Proper Breathing Is Important During Exercise

September 20th, 2018 SanTan Sun News
Proper Breathing Is Important During Exercise
Sports and Recreation

By Sithari Edirisooriya, Guest Writer

You’ve been doing it countless times every day. You’re doing it right now.

Chances are, you are doing it all wrong.

Breathing is basic, but do you really need instructions?

When it comes to exercise, the act of inhaling and exhaling may be more complicated than you think. Should you inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth?  What exactly is a diaphragm? (Hint: It is a muscle below your lungs that contracts and moves downward each time you take a deep breath. This expands both the chest cavity and the lungs.)

Keep these things in mind when exercising:

Don’t hold your breath. During intense exercise, holding your breath gives extra strength to your core muscles but starves them of oxygen. If we cut off the oxygen to our bodies, we risk hernias, muscle cramps, dizziness and falls.

Chest breathing. Try using your diaphragm. Breathing through the top of the chest forces the body to use other muscles, such as those in the neck, which are not built for the task. This weakens the diaphragm, leading to fatigue and reduced blood flow.

Shallow breathing. Posture counts. When the shoulders are hunched forward, it hinders our ability to expand our diaphragm and take the deep, full breaths that can increase performance, efficiency and stress management.

Running. Improper breathing technique when running can impair speed and performance. While there’s no specific rule, many runners find it more comfortable to take two steps while inhaling and two steps while exhaling — also known as the “2:2 rhythm.”

The diaphragm and surrounding organs are all subject to the forces of gravity.  Matching the breath to running count will keep the organs from putting unnecessary pressure on the diaphragm.

Strength training. Anyone who lifts weights regularly knows that exhaling on the exertion of an exercise is proper technique. Contracting the respiratory muscles will help brace the load during heavier lifts while maintaining lumbar stability.

When performing a bench press, exhale slowly and continuously while pressing the bar, then inhale at the top of the lift or on the return. Once that barbell is pressed, the weight doesn’t disappear, so keep the core engaged to protect the spine. Remember to exhale!

Holding the breath too long can impede the return of blood to the heart and raise blood pressure (definitely not the goal).

Another technique is a bicep curl. Exhale as you raise the weights to curl, then inhale as you’re lowering. For a push-up, inhale as you lower to the floor, and exhale when you press yourself up.

If you are lifting weight that is too heavy, you will be grunting or pausing midbreath. Lower the weight limit until you can execute the move while breathing smoothly.

Wrap up. While there isn’t one correct way to breathe when exercising, the breath should come from the diaphragm. In general, the rib cage should expand top to bottom, back to front, and to the sides. Better breathing technique can lead to overall better well-being.

Sithari Edirisooriya, D.C., owns AcuChiro, 333 N. Dobson Road, Suite 5, in Chandler. AcuChiro offers acupuncture, chiropractic care and physiotherapy. Information: 602-753-9130 or

Comments are closed.