Deep breathing exercises encourage the air you breathe in to fully fill your lungs. Also known as diaphragmatic breathing and abdominal breathing, it helps your body to breathe in as much energy giving oxygen as possible, and exchange it for the waste product carbon dioxide. As a result of this deep breathing and full gas exchange, your heart rate will slow down and your blood pressure will stabilise. The reason for this is, after taking a deep breath in, a message is sent to your brain instructing it to calm down and relax. Following this, the message is then sent to your body.
How to perform breathing exercises to relieve stress
- Sit in a comfortable position or lie down on the floor.
- Breathe in deeply into your belly (often referred to as belly breathing) without forcing it.
- Create an even flow in and then out again. NHS Choices suggest trying to count steadily from 1 to 5.
- Keep doing this for 3 to 5 minutes.
As you get older, daily stresses and strains may start to interfere with your life and your body may begin to operate the ‘fight or flight’ response. This is why how you breathe is so important, because breathing incorrectly can affect your health. However, breathing exercises can help you to breathe well again.
Tips to help you benefit most from breathing deeply
- Place one hand on your chest and one on your belly, just below your ribs.
- You’ll know if you’re taking deep breaths when your belly rises. If your chest rises, then you’re only breathing into your chest and you need to focus on breathing deeply into your belly instead.
- When you breathe out, breathe out through pursed lips, as though you’re whistling. This helps to expel stale air in your lungs.
Why deep breathing exercises are helpful
Even though you breathe automatically, about 22,000 times a day, breathing can still become difficult. This may be because of a breathing problem due to a medical condition. It may also be due to pushing your breathing to its limit while exercising. And although these scenarios are different, they do have one thing in common. That is, whatever you’re doing, you breathe using your diaphragm, which is a muscle. In fact, your diaphragm is your main breathing muscle which does around 80% of your breathing work. And like any other muscle it can tire and decondition. As a result, your body will start to use other accessory muscles to help you breathe, such as your neck and chest. This isn’t helpful, as it reduces the amount of oxygen you breathe in. And lower oxygen levels translate into less oxygen reserve for day-to-day activities or exercise.
Regular exercises, such as diaphragmatic breathing with POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training, will help to strengthen your diaphragm. A stronger diaphragm will help you to breathe more deeply, increasing your oxygen levels and helping to rid your body of stale air.
Diaphragmatic breathing exercises
POWERbreathe IMT will help you get in touch with your diaphragm again, and target that specific breathing muscle to help you to breathe deeply. In fact, POWERbreathe IMT (Inspiratory Muscle Training) is being used by physiotherapists in hospitals to help improve a patient’s breathing muscle strength prior to surgery. By doing so, this deep breathing exercise can reduce breathing complications after major surgery.
POWERbreathe breathing training is used by healthcare professionals for a range of patients with dyspnea, or shortness of breath. It has been used by patients for many years to improve quality of life in people with major debilitating conditions. Deep breathing training with POWERbreathe is also beneficial to sports people as it increases breathing strength and stamina which will improve sports performance.