Monday, 30 January 2012

Breathing during Exercise

Many people complain about struggling to breathe or always feeling out of breath while exercising. When exercising, your heart rate increases, as does your blood flow, so that sufficient oxygen and nutrients can be delivered to the muscles in order to perform the movement. Therefore, as you exercise, your breathing rate must also increase to support this process because all physiological processes are interlinked.

Depending on the type of exercise you are doing, your breathing demands and patterns will vary. When performing aerobic exercise, such as walking at a brisk pace, your breathing rate will increase, however you should still be able to hold a conversation. When performing anaerobic exercise, such as sprinting, you will breathe very heavily and thus be unable to talk. When performing resistance exercise, your breathing rate will increase in accordance with the weight and the number of repetitions in the set.

When performing any exercise, you want to try and keep your breathing as regular as possible. One tends to breathe faster shallower breaths, rather than maintaining deeper steadier breaths. When breaths are shallow, you take in less oxygen to support the body, which means you have to breathe faster in order to get more oxygen. You end up panting and feeling very out of breath, resulting in you being unable to continue exercising.

When partaking in aerobic or anaerobic exercise, try to focus your breathing by concentrating on breathing in through the nose and slowly out through the mouth. After completing an anaerobic session and your heart rate and breathing rate are extremely fast, try to breathe deeply and slowly in order to catch your breath, rather than panting uncontrollably. Also, try to maintain an upright position, rather than hunching over, so that air can enter the lungs easily.  Concentrate on breathing into the lungs, as opposed to the abdomen – your chest and not your stomach should rise when you breathe.

When engaging in resistance exercise, it is important that you do not hold your breath while lifting weights. This technique is called the Valsalva Maneuver and is often used by body builders. It involves closing the nose and mouth so that air is trapped inside the body, creating an increased pressure in the body to support the spine when lifting very heavy weights. This technique places great pressure on the cardiovascular system, as it significantly increases ones blood pressure. Thus, it must not be used by individuals with hypertension. When lifting weight, including body weight, one must exhale on the exertion and inhale when returning to the rest position. For example, when doing an abdominal crunch, you must first inhale while you are lying flat, then exhale as you lift your head and shoulders, and then finally inhale as you lower your head and shoulders back to the resting position.

At first, this concentrated deep breathing may result in dizziness, as it is a form of hyperventilation. If this happens, lie back and rest for a few moments before continuing. Then, take more natural breaths as opposed to forcing yourself to take very deep breaths.

Oxygen is energy to your cells. The more you have, the easier exercise will become. Breathe deeply and regularly throughout your exercise session and you should feel a lot more comfortable.

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