Deep breathing exercises are encouraged in many practices of life.
From meditation to birthing classes and everything in-between, the way we breathe and how we do it can have an immediately positive impact on personal health.
Although deep breathing seems like a pretty basic skill, it isn’t always performed correctly so the health benefits it can provide can make an appearance.
There are specific steps that you’ll want to follow to make sure you’re able to maximize the benefits you can receive.
Deep Breathing Techniques to Follow
Although deep breathing exercises can be performed anywhere and at virtually any time, it is still helpful to find a comfortable, quiet spot whenever possible.
You can stand to do deep breathing, but lying down or sitting tends to make the exercise more effective.
You may also find it helpful, especially at first, to place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen.
This will help to familiarize yourself with your body’s unique process of breathing deeply.
Then you’ll want to follow these steps in order.
- Inhale through the nose. When you start your deep breath, keep your mouth closed and only breathe through your nose. Not only will this help to filter the air you receive, it will make your deep breathing exercises more efficient.
- Focus on the process of breathing. Pay attention to what happens to your chest and abdomen as you inhale through your nose. Feel your chest expand.
- Count to 4. You will want to inhale for about 4 seconds. A simple mental 4-count is often close enough. While you are inhaling and counting, do your best to maintain proper posture. You don’t want your shoulders or chest moving as your lungs accept the increased oxygen levels.
- Hold your breath for a count of 4. Once you’ve reached your 4-count, it’s time to hold your breath. Count to 4 once again.
- Now you’re ready to exhale. When you are expelling air from your lungs, you will want to count to 4 one more time. Notice how your chest and abdomen begin to fall as the lungs begin to collapse.
- Imagine all stress, tension, and worry leaving your body. Just let the problems go. No matter how bad of a day it may be, this moment of deep breathing is your moment.
You can repeat this deep breathing technique until you begin to experience the health benefits of deep breathing.
There is no time limit on this technique.
You don’t have to complete a certain number of cycles.
Just keep going until you feel better.
Now that you’ve got the basics of deep breathing available to you, it’s time to explore the reasons why you should breathe more deeply on a regular basis.
There are many advantages which come when exploring the health benefits of deep breathing.
If you aren’t taking the time to take a few deep breaths each day, then here are the reasons why you should breathe more deeply starting right now.
#1. Deep breathing releases toxins from the body.
Up to 70% of the toxins that your body retains are meant to be expelled through the breathing process.
It’s a process of simple mechanics.
If you are breathing deeply and doing it more often, then you are able to expel those toxins more effectively.
The primary toxin that is expelled through the breathing process is carbon dioxide.
When you exhale after a deep breath, what you are doing is removing the carbon dioxide that has been produced from your metabolism activities.
The carbon dioxide is in your blood, which is then oxygenated by your lungs, and the carbon dioxide is deposited in its place.
#2. Deep breathing reduces stress and muscular tension.
A deep breath is also a message that gets sent to the rest of your body.
It’s a way of telling the brain that it is time to slow down and relax for a minute.
As this message spreads throughout the body, a feeling of calmness begins to settle in.
Tense muscles begin to ease.
Anxiety may begin to fade.
Another emotion that can be controlled through the deep breathing process is fear.
Shallow breaths prevent the right amount of oxygen from getting into your bloodstream.
The buildup of carbon dioxide can then actually cause the flight or fight mechanism to increase, which may not be the appropriate response to the situation where you may find yourself.
As the emotions come under control and the muscles begin to relax, the body then begins to produce lower amounts of cortisol.
Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” because it is usually produced only in situations which are considered to be personally stressful.
By reducing the amount of stress being felt, it is possible for daily deep breathing exercises to manage stress-related health problems with greater effectiveness.
This can mean a reduction in risk of heart disease symptoms, stroke, high blood pressure, and even diabetes.
#3. Deep breathing will also strengthen the lungs.
The overall functionality of your lungs is incredibly important.
When the tissues which make up your lungs are able to expand and contract well, then the air sacs that are used for oxygenation and toxin release are able to work more effectively.
This means your lungs are a lot like your muscles.
If you do regular strength training at the gym, then your muscles are going to become stronger.
If you perform regular deep breathing exercises, your lungs will become stronger.
All it takes is 10 minutes of deep breathing every day and you’ll notice many of the health benefits of deep breathing listed here can become a reality.
Everyone can benefit from performing deep breathing exercises.
This includes those who may be suffering from asthma, COPD, airway inflammation, chronic bronchitis, or other respiratory problems.
#4. Deep breathing can help control chronic pain.
What’s the first thing you do when something painful occurs?
If you’re like most people, you end up holding your breath.
Then you attempt to expel as much carbon dioxide as possible because that makes the pain feel a little bit better.
Without realizing it, you take a really deep breath and do the same thing.
The reason why this process works so effectively at managing acute or chronic pain is the fact that deep breathing causes the body to release endorphins.
Endorphins help your body feel better because it stimulates the reward centers of the mind.
Because you are feeling better, the pain levels are reduced because you’re not solely focusing on them any more.
There are other reasons why deep breathing helps control acute or chronic pain as well.
- It changes the acidity level of the body. Deep breathing helps to make the body more alkaline than acidic. This lowering of your overall pH helps you control pain because the receptors which experience pain respond more quickly to internal responses.
- It controls skin temperature and blood flow. These two factors have a direct effect on the sympathetic nervous system. If you feel hot and your blood is flowing at an increased rate without an adrenaline push behind it, then you are going to feel more pain. This is why placing ice on the skin can temporarily numb that area.
- It reduces the amount of cortisol in the body. Ever notice that when you are stressed out, any pain you experience tends to be worse? This is because cortisol is a pain conductor. It amplifies what you are feeling. When it can be reduced, even chronic pain can be lowered.
#5. Deep breathing can assist with weight loss.
Deep breathing really is exercise.
As with any type of exercise, you’ll be burning more calories performing it than if you were sitting still.
The caloric burning boost is minimal, but present, and that can assist with weight loss.
Deep breathing also provides you with blood that has more overall oxygen in it.
The oxygen helps to fuel your metabolism, allowing you to exercise for longer periods of time while removing a greater level of toxins from your system.
This process also helps your body process excess fat more efficiently, which also assists with the weight loss process.
Numerous research studies from the American Heart Association have found that structured meditation, yoga, or deep breathing programs are able to decrease weight levels in those who are overweight or obese.
It’s also one of the fastest long-term health benefits of deep breathing that makes itself known.
You can begin to see improvements in this area in as little as 4 days.
#6. Deep breathing can reduce incidents of insomnia.
There’s a lot to worry about in our world today.
There’s also a lot of stimulants in the foods we eat.
It’s not just caffeine that can keep you awake at night.
In today’s food, there are many sugars and sugar-like substances.
If you consume something that contains a high sugar level or a large amount of high fructose corn syrup, then there’s a good chance you’ll be up well into the early morning hours.
Deep breathing is known to counter the effects of stimulants on the central nervous system.
The deep breathing process helps to create relaxation, which means the nervous system doesn’t feel as “amped up” by the stimulants.
Another reason why embracing deep breathing for insomnia is important is because the process can also help to quiet the mind.
It is much easier to fall asleep and then stay asleep when your mind is clear and calm.
If you’re the person who creates to-do lists as you fall asleep, then this health benefit of deep breathing can make an immediate impact.
Now here’s the best news: you can combine deep breathing exercises with your regular bedtime routine.
Deep breathing works with brainwave entrainment products, while taking a warm bath or shower, or listening to white noise.
#7. Deep breathing can reduce or prevent motion sickness.
If you’ve ever had to deal with the weird feeling in your stomach that makes you feel like you’re going to throw up when you travel, then you’ve dealt with motion sickness.
Motion sickness occurs when the body’s equilibrium is disrupted in some way.
Trains, planes, and automobiles can all cause motion sickness with regularity.
Sea sickness is also motion sickness – it just occurs on a boat.
You can even feel sick from the motions of a roller coaster.
What did you do in order to feel better when motion sickness was rearing its ugly head?
There’s a good chance that you started to do some deep breathing.
Although there are medicines and natural remedies that can help to prevent motion sickness, symptom reduction tends to be most effective when deep breathing takes place.
This is because the process of a long, slow deep breath increases the parasympathetic nervous system, countering the effects on the equilibrium.
You’ll also find the opposite is true.
If you’re feeling ill from motion sickness and take rapid, shallow breaths, then the nauseating symptoms tend to increase in severity.
#8. Deep breathing can improve the digestion process.
That pizza was pretty awesome.
You had four slices when maybe you should have only had two.
Now, two hours later, you’re feeling the effects of that decision.
There’s some gas and bloating going on. Your stomach might be cramping. There might even be some constipation going on.
Instead of reaching for the antacids, it might be a good idea to see if the health benefits of deep breathing can help you feel better.
When you take deep, slow breaths when dealing with gas, bloating, and constipation, then you can improve the digestive process.
This is because that pattern of breathing helps to stimulate a higher level of blood flow throughout your body – including the digestive tract.
Deep breathing can also encourage intestinal activity to further help the digestive process.
Many people tend to feel anxious or worried when there is poor digestion as well because the symptoms they feel can mimic some serious health issues.
Chest pain, lower abdominal pain, and severe heartburn may also occur during a heart health issue, while encountering appendicitis, or other medical emergencies.
Even though the odds of a medical emergency occurring are small, the thought that one might be happening can be enough to trigger stress.
More stress means more cortisol. More cortisol means the symptoms of poor digestion get worse.
So the calming effect that happens when using deep breathing exercises for other health benefits can also help here.
Many can experience a positive outcome right away and sometimes even the constipation won’t even appear.
Go ahead. Have another slice of pizza if you wish. Just don’t overdo it.
#9. Deep breathing can help with migraines.
Migraine headaches are very debilitating.
They are also experienced in many different ways.
There might be an “aura” or “halo” effect on that person’s vision.
The start of a headache can also create muscle tension in the face, neck, and shoulders which can enhance the pain of the migraine.
Migraines can also cause dizziness, nausea, and a slower thinking process.
Some migraines only last for a few minutes. Others can last for several hours.
Treating a migraine often takes a multi-faceted approach.
The first step is to avoid common migraine triggers to reduce the number of headache days that are being experienced.
Common migraine triggers include smoke, perfume/cologne, chaotic visual stimuli, environmental changes, and allergen exposure.
After that first step, prescription medications may be offered.
Another part of the treatment plan for migraines also includes deep breathing.
This is because deep breathing can boost energy levels by stabilizing oxygen levels within the blood.
It also boosts blood circulation to the brain so that the body can begin to naturally heal from the migraine.
Ever notice how sitting with poor posture and using incorrect breathing methods can lead to a lack of energy and feelings of sluggishness?
Those are the same feelings that many migraine sufferers experience during a headache day.
Sleep often helps to relieve the pain of a migraine headache.
If sleep isn’t a possibility and you suffer from migraines, follow your doctor’s advice.
Then consider adding 10-30 minutes of deep breathing daily to help make sure your system is properly balanced so it can fight off a migraine that might want to make an appearance.
#10. Deep breathing can also provide a general energy increase.
You don’t need to be suffering from a migraine or chronic pain in order to benefit from the energy increases that deep breathing can provide as a health benefit.
People who take just 10 minutes each day at some point to practice deep breathing are able to experience improved energy levels and a stronger stamina almost immediately.
This is because of the higher oxygen content that is given to the blood from the deep breathing process.
The added energy can be used by the body for whatever it may need.
It can use the extra energy reserve to boost your immune system.
If there is an injury, then the extra energy can be used to help the body heal.
From exercise to a greater mental focus to digestion, the applications are virtually endless.
So if you’re feeling a bit lethargic because you didn’t sleep well or it’s been a long, bad day, stop reaching for the coffee and energy drinks.
Try taking some time away to do some deep breathing exercises instead.
You’ll receive a general energy increase that could turn your whole day around.
How Can the Health Benefits of Deep Breathing Help You Today?
A bad day might decide to come your way.
Stress might be hiding around the corner.
Worry can always rear its ugly head.
These are the moments that the health benefits of deep breathing can begin to help you make it through.
Deep breathing can also help you control insomnia, improve digestion, and have more energy.
The reasons why you should breathe more deeply are many, but it is up to you to grab these advantages and use them in your life.
All it takes is 10 minutes to turn a bad day around, quiet the mind, or deal with bothersome physical symptoms.
In return for that investment, there is the possibility that you could feel better almost immediately.
You might even feel better than you have for months… or even years.
It’s time to take control of your life. It’s time to start feeling good. Deep breathing exercises will help you achieve these outcomes.
Are you using deep breathing exercises on a regular basis?