News & Events

How to: Improve Your Health Through Breathing

Is your breathing helping or hurting your daily performance?

The average person will take more than 8 million breaths per year! Yet, chances are you may not be taking the proper steps for your breath to properly serve you in day-to-day activities and workouts. Today, I will go over three simple tests you can use to improve your workout, mood and manage stress levels. 

Breathing Test:

  • Start by lying on your back.
  • Place your right hand with the thumb below the ribs and the center of the palm on the abs (as if you had a tummy ache).
  • Take the left hand and place it on the chest, centered on the ribs.
  • Finally, inhale through your nose and out through your mouth.

What did you feel?

Ideally, you should feel your stomach begin to expand before your chest and shoulders move. There should have been minimal movement in your upper hand. This means your extremely strong breathing muscle, called the diaphragm, is doing its job!

The diaphragm pulls the lungs down during proper breathing, expanding the lungs in a 3-D like a pattern, top to bottom, front to back, and to the sides

Breathing is an involuntary muscular action, meaning we don’t have to think about it. Because of this, many people are not able to fill their lungs to full volume. When this occurs, it is called a “chest breath”.

A chest breath is a type of breathing when the diaphragm is not involved, and we are not using our lungs to their full capacity. This type of breathing causes the body to enter a response state called “Fight or Flight”. This type of body response is what we feel when we encounter a bear and must make the choice to defend ourselves or run. When our bodies are in this type of response, it causes a release of stress hormones to the body. These stress hormones are highly inflammatory and negative to the brain and body’s performance over a long period. 

3 Breathing Exercises:

To help eliminate the release of stress hormones throughout the day, try this exercise.

  • Inhale for 6 seconds
  • Hold that breath for 4 seconds
  • Exhale for 10 seconds

If you feel groggy or tired, try this exercise. 

  • Inhale for 6 seconds
  • Hold for 2 seconds
  • Exhale forcefully

Finally, to prepare your body for a workout, try this breathing exercise. 

  • Inhale for 4 seconds
  • Hold briefly
  • Exhale forcefully

As we breathe all day without much thought, it is important we become aware of how we are breathing. Being able to control breathing will help you become more mindful and feel better throughout the day!

Try these three exercises out and see a difference in your mood and activity.

Happy breathing,

Parker Victor, MA, CSCS, USAW-1, Head Performance Coach

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Jennie A., Collegiate Track & Field Athlete

Athletes’ Training Center has worked to specialize workouts to fit my athletic needs. The strength coaches have a one on one personal connection to fix minor details that have had a major impact on my athletic performance.