Learning to breathe during exercise is one of the best ways to improve athletic performance, increase health benefits, and prevent dizziness or feelings of sickness. Whether you’re hitting the turf, the track, or a squat rack, breathing might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you envision getting shape. However, smooth and efficient breathing is essential for delivering the oxygen our bodies need to properly function. In learning to breathe during exercise, you can train longer, harder, and better. However, breathing techniques should vary by exercise. Here are a few popular methods for essential exercises.
Running: While there is no special rule, many runners find it most comfortable to take one breath for every two foot strikes. This is known as the 2:2 rhythm. Synchronizing the breath to your running cadence will keep your organs from putting unnecessary pressure, caused by gravity, on the diaphragm, which can significantly impede breathing. Additionally, while some experts debate the advantages of breathing through the nose or mouth, most professionals recommend going with what feels best. Many runners pace themselves through assessing breathing; if they cannot comfortably breathe through the nose, they are pushing too hard.
Strength Training: Aerobic activity isn’t the only exercise that can benefit from good breathing form. If you’ve spent time in a weight room, you’re likely heard of exhaling on the exertion, or effort phase, of an exercise. Contracting your respiratory muscles will help to brace the load during heavier lifts while maintaining lumbar stability. Inhale at the top of your rep or on the return. The most important breathing tip for strength training is to breathe out. Holding your breath will increase pressure inside the chest, but holding it for too long can impede the return of blood to the heart.
High-Intensity Sports: A mix of demanding cardio and quick pace changes, high-intensity sports are the most difficult for breath control. While there is no single correct way to breathe on the playing field or while running, all breath should come from the diaphragm, which is the most efficient breathing muscle. Additionally, breathing deeper, calmer, and more efficiently can give athletes a psychological edge against their opponents.