Your breath is critical, especially when exercising, which can cause you to feel short of breath. To maximise your performance, you must focus on breathing and make the necessary adjustments.
This change can increase your ease and efficiency, allowing you to reach your full potential. New methods may feel unnatural or uncomfortable at first. You’ll grow accustomed to the changes and be able to optimise your breathing to make your workouts more enjoyable.
To improve your workout performance, try these simple, efficient breathing techniques. Start slowly rather than attempting to integrate all of these tips into your exercise routine.
Learn one technique at a time and give yourself at least a week to master it before attempting another.
Why is it so difficult?
Running, for example, causes your muscles and respiratory system to work harder than usual. More oxygen is required, and your lungs must eliminate carbon dioxide buildup (breathing out), making breathing difficult.
The quality of your breath can indicate your fitness level or how well your body responds to the pace and intensity of your run. If you work too hard or push yourself beyond your limits, you may feel short of breath, wheezing, or chest tightness.
Mouth or nose?
You can use nasal breathing if you’re going for a slow, casual run. You can also breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
But if you find it difficult to talk or catch your breath, you might find it more comfortable to only breathe through your mouth. Breathing through your mouth during intense runs or sprints is advised because it’s more effective.
More oxygen enters your body and fuels your muscles when you inhale and exhale through your mouth. Furthermore, mouth breathing relieves tension and tightness in your jaw, allowing you to relax your face and body.
Tips for improving your breathing while exercising
Use these easy-to-implement strategies to help you breathe more easily and efficiently while exercising. When attempting a new technique, start slowly to get a feel for it before increasing the speed.
1. Diaphragmatic respiration
Deep abdominal breathing strengthens the breathing muscles and allows you to take in more air. You will not only be able to use oxygen more efficiently, but you’ll also be less likely to get side stitches.
If you take shallow breaths, diaphragmatic breathing is vital. Belly breathing naturally relaxes your body because breathing into your chest can also tighten your shoulders.
How to do it:
- While lying on your back, practice belly breathing.
- Fill your belly with air by breathing in through your nose.
- Push your diaphragm down and out as your stomach expands.
- Exhale for a more extended time than you inhale.
- Over a few days, perform a few 5-minute sessions. When you first start incorporating it into your runs, slow down. You can quicken the pace once you’ve mastered it.
2. Concentrate on your form.
Place your body in a way that will support healthy, effective breathing to get the most out of each breath. Maintain proper posture by keeping your head aligned with your spine and not dropping down or forward.
Pull your shoulders back and away from your ears. Avoid forward hunching or slouching.
3. Breathe slowly and rhythmically.
Rhythmic breathing allows you to take in more oxygen while putting less strain on your body. The force of your foot hitting the ground each time can cause stress in your body.
Alternate between exhaling through your right and left foot to avoid muscular imbalances. Rhythmic breathing also relieves pressure on your diaphragm and balances the stress on both sides of your body.
4. Breathe in some fresh air
Inhaling clean air will make breathing much more effortless. If you intend to run outside in a polluted urban area, choose a time of day when traffic is light. Avoid the busiest roads and opt for less congested streets.
5. Advice for those with asthma
If you have asthma, staying active is critical, even if exercise triggers or worsens symptoms. You can improve your lung function and manage your symptoms with the right approach. Take a look at these top breathing tips:
6. Good weather is a win.
Certain types of weather can aggravate asthma symptoms. You may prefer to work out indoors on these days. Cold air contains less moisture, making breathing less comfortable and potentially triggering symptoms.
If you exercise in cold weather, cover your nose and mouth with a scarf to moisten and warm up the air you breathe. Weather variations, warm days, and thunderstorms are additional triggers.
7. Get used to exercising slowly.
Warming up is especially important if you have asthma because your lungs need time to warm up. Gradually increase the intensity to allow your lungs to begin working.
Wind down when you are almost done exercising so your lungs can gradually cool down.
8. Stay away from pollen.
Before going out for a workout, check the pollen count and plan to exercise once the pollen count has reached its lowest, which would generally be in the early hours or after it rains.
If you can’t avoid it, consider wearing a pollen mask. Take a hot shower and rinse your workout clothes after your workout.
When should you see a doctor?
Before beginning any new exercise regime, consult your doctor, especially if you are new to fitness, have any health complications, or take medications.
Take precautions if you have a lung condition, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, e.g. emphysema or chronic bronchitis.
Seek medical help if you have trouble breathing or encounter difficulty breathing, gasping, or wheezing while running. Feeling dizzy, faint, or disoriented are symptoms that require medical attention.
A message from the Heartscope Specialist Group
You can improve your breathing patterns with the right tools. These simple techniques can help you breathe and run to your full potential. Aim to exercise at a pace that allows you to easily breathe and carry on a normal conversation without gasping for air.
Develop the habit of paying attention to your breath while working out and at other times throughout the day. Remind yourself to breathe smoothly and evenly, and pay close attention to any variations and how your breath reacts to different situations or activities. The Heartscope Specialist Group is always available to assist you if you notice any abnormalities.