10 Benefits of Deep Breathing

Deep Breathing should be a part of our everyday life. It not only can lengthen the years that we get to live, but can make us happier, more productive and energetic living them too. Breathing deeply is a well-known stress reliever and has a multitude of health benefits as well. However, in our high stress busy lives, we often breathe very shallowly most of the time. But with a little effort, deep breathing can become an easy and unconscious part of our daily life. By making a conscious decision to focus on our breath for a part of each day, we can make it so that we regularly breathe deeper without having to think about it at all. 

Spend some time each day consciously breathing slow and rhythmically, and bringing air down deeper into your lungs. It is a simple trick to automatically get energized and focused. Just concentrate on bringing your breath down deeper into your lungs. Picture your lungs expanding with air as you breathe in. That is exactly what happens; shallow breathing only fills a small portion of our lungs but it is so much healthier and beneficial for all of our body’s processes, systems and organs, to fill the lungs and bring air deep down into them. Doing this drives more oxygen into the body which cleansing the blood, and in turn cleanses and benefits everything else.

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How To Breathe Correctly

Breathe deeply into your abdomen, not just your chest. Proper breathing should be deep, slow and rhythmic and done through the nose, not the mouth. Each breath should ideally last three to four seconds breathing in and three to four seconds breathing out.  Deep full breaths that fill your lungs use your diaphragm. When you breathe deeply your diaphragm muscle pulls your lungs down, so that they expand and so that you can really circulate oxygen down into the whole lung.

Breathe in slowly and imagine your lungs filling up with air: your chest slightly widens, your diaphragm pulls your chest cavity down and your belly button pulls away from your spine as you breathe in. When your lungs are full, exhale slowly and pull your belly button back in towards your spine to push out all of the air from the lungs.

Creating A Habit Of Deep Breathing

Practice taking at least 10 deep breaths first thing in the morning and also in the evening to get into the habit or plan 2 periods (or more) in your day and take at least 5 minutes for each period to practice deep breathing. If you are comfortable to extend it, make the times longer or do it more frequently.  

Post sticky notes around your home or office as reminders when you see them to breathe deeply.  The benefit of this exercise is that it doesn’t take any extra time, we can breathe while doing anything else; we just need to be reminded to do it.

Put a note or something to remind you when driving. Try to get into the habit of breathing deeply when you come to a red light. Or make it a habit when you do a certain task, or go into a certain room. Pick something that will work for you.

If you sit at a computer for long periods sometimes we become so engaged that we forget to breathe. Lack of oxygen affects all of our processes, including and especially the brain and often when we are working on the computer  we are multitasking and thinking of several things. Therefore, it is especially important to remember to take periods of conscious deep breathing to work more efficiently and so we don’t feel overwhelmed or stressed.

Breathing deeply for just a few minutes every day will improve our mental outlook and improve our physical health as well. Breathing is something we all have to do anyway. Learn to do it well and make it a habit so you do it unconsciously and you will be happier, healthier and even live longer.

Breathing Exercise

You can do this anytime of the day, anywhere you are. You can close your eyes, or simply look down at your feet or the ground. Take a deep breath in for five seconds, hold your breath for two seconds, and release for four seconds. Count your breaths as you do this. Continue for a few minutes and notice the way you feel. Amazing, right?!

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10 Benefits of Deep Breathing

  1. Deep Breathing makes you calmer. Breathing deeply and feeling calm is your natural state. Deep breathing naturally relaxes the mind and body. Breathing deeply is the fastest way to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, aka the relaxation response, which makes you feel relaxed. Stress is at the core of most diseases and most of us live stressful busy lives, which is commonly accompanied with shallow breathing. When we breathe shallowly, the body does not receive as much oxygen as it needs and it makes our muscles constrict. You can almost feel this tightening when you are stressed or tense. The sympathetic nervous system is triggered when we feel stress or anxiety and sends out spikes of cortisol and adrenaline. It is the parasympathetic nervous system which counteracts this and breath is the fastest way for these two systems to communicate. With deeper breathing you can turn the switch from high alarm to low in seconds. Remember if you ever feel anxious to breathe deeply. Pay attention and you can feel the peace coming in and the tension being released as you simply (but deeply) breathe in and out.

  2. Deep Breathing helps to detoxify the body. Our bodies are designed to release 70 percent of its toxins through breathing. Carbon dioxide is a natural toxic waste that comes from the body’s metabolic processes and it needs to be expelled from the body regularly and consistently. It gets transferred from the blood to our lungs and we expel it with our breath. However, when our lungs are compromised by shallow breathing, the other detoxification systems in the body take over and have to work harder to expel this waste. This overload can make the body weaker and lead to illness.

  3. Deep Breathing relieves pain. Studies have proved it yet when we feel pain our instant subconscious reaction is to hold our breath. Remember that breathing deeply and breathing into pain will help to release it. Deep breathing releases endorphins which are the body’s natural feel good pain killers.

  4. Deep Breathing makes you happier. Breathing deeply will release more of the “feel good” hormones that elevate moods and control pain.

  5. Deep Breathing helps to improve your posture. Bad posture is often directly linked with incorrect breathing. Try it yourself and as you practice breathing deeply watch how you naturally straighten up. Filling your lungs encourages you to straighten your spine and stand or sit taller.

  6. Deep Breathing stimulates the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a crucial system in our body that most of us are fairly unaware of. We know much more about our circulatory systems but we have twice the amount of lymphatic fluid in our body as we do blood. Our circulatory system relies on our heart to pump it, while the lymphatic system relies on our breathing to get it moving.  The blood pumps oxygen and nutrients to the cells and once they absorb what they need they excrete their waste back out into the sea of lymphatic fluid that our cells constantly swim in. The lymph fluid is responsible for ridding the body of the debris the cells excrete and also dead cells and other waste. As our breathing is what moves the lymph, breathing shallowly can lead to a sluggish lymphatic system which is not detoxifying properly. Deep breathing will help get that lymph flowing properly so your body can work more efficiently.

  7. Deep Breathing increases our cardiovascular capacity. It gives many of the same benefits of exercise and can enhance the benefits you get from exercise.  Aerobic exercise (cardio) uses fat as energy, while anaerobic exercise (strength training) uses glucose as energy. By expanding our cardiovascular capacity from deep breathing we can do more cardio easier, which also increases our cardiovascular capacity and burns more fat cells as well.

  8. Deep Breathing gives you energy.  Drawing air deeper down into the lungs greatly increases blood flow as this is where the greatest amount of blood flow occurs, according to the American Medical Student Association. This increases energy and also improves stamina. The higher oxygen content of the blood, which  cleanses the body and all its cells of debris and toxins, along with better circulation, better sleep, stress reduction, your body working more efficiently, and all that goes along with these naturally gives you lots more energy.

  9. Deep Breathing improves your digestion. More oxygen is supplied to the digestive organs and thereby helping them to work more efficiently. Deeper breathing also results in an increased blood flow, which in the digestive tract encourages intestinal action and will further improve your overall digestion. It addition, deeper breathing results in a calmer nervous system which in turn also enhances optimal digestion.

  10. Deep Breathing strengthens the major organs of the body, such as lungs and the heart. Deep breathing expands the lungs and makes them work more efficiently. It also brings in more oxygen to the blood which gets sent to the heart and makes it so that the heart does not have to work so hard to deliver oxygen to the tissues. Also, with the lungs working a little harder pushing out oxygen into the blood it eases the pressure needed by the heart to pump it through the body. This improves your circulation and gives the heart a bit of a break.

Bonus: 11. Deep Breathing helps to regulate weight. If you are underweight, the extra oxygen will help to feed the cells and tissues. If you are overweight it will assist with weight loss. The extra oxygen in the body will help to burn up excess fat more efficiently. When we are stressed, and most of us live day to day in a fairly stressed state, your body tends to burn glycogen instead of fat. Deep breathing triggers the relaxation response which encourages the body to burn fat instead.