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4 Breathing Mistakes You Should Fix Now

Just because breathing is automatic doesn’t mean you are doing it correctly. When you pay attention to your breathing, you can improve your health. Amy Crawford-Faucher, M.D., a family medicine specialist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre, speaks about breathing, “Most people are doing it wrong most of the time.”

It is fairly common for people to check their heart rate, but few people pay attention to their respiratory rate. Although it varies based on body size and resting lung volume, people should inhale 12-20 times per minute. Heather Milton, M.S., a senior exercise physiologist at the Sports Performance Centre at NYU Langone Medical Centre, explains that most people breathe too shallow and too quickly. “Maintaining proper breathing boosts oxygen carrying capacity and blood flow, which you need to keep your muscles working well, your brain alert, and your concentration at its peak.”

Learning to focus on your breathing can improve your health by making several of your body systems function more effectively. You will find that you have increased energy, better endurance, and less stress. This combination can help you lose weight. Patrick McKeown, the author of The Oxygen Advantage, states, “The manner in which we breathe has an enormous effect on our health.”

Learn about the most common breathing mistakes and how to correct them:

Mistake #1

Not enough exhaling while exercising: It is quite common for people to unconsciously limit their breathing while exercising. This happens when we workout with tense shoulders while running, walking, or cycling, and causes you to tire more quickly. When you carry tension in your shoulders and face, you will limit your exhalations and eliminate less carbon dioxide. This will make you more fatigued. Those who hold their breath during weight training will experience potentially dangerous increases in blood pressure, which can increase the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. You may even experience dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting as a result.

What to do about it: Any time you are exercising, make an effort to consciously breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth for balanced respiration. When strength training, breathe out as you exert yourself, such as when you are lifting a weight or pressing a pose. Inhale during the easier phases of each move.

Mistake #2

Sucking in your stomach: For those fighting to keep a flat belly, sucking in your stomach may help. But it can limit the range of the diaphragm, too. The diaphragm helps your lungs fill with air completely. As the diaphragm relaxes, excess air is pushed out after the oxygen has been removed. Holding your stomach in too much will cause you to have weaker exhalations and trap excess carbon dioxide in your lungs. Extending your diaphragm can improve breathing, slow your heartbeat, decrease symptoms of anxiety, and lower blood pressure.

What to do about it: Simple diaphragmatic breathing exercises can improve the range of movement of the organ. Lie on the floor with your back flat. Place one hand on your upper chest and your other hand below your rib cage and feel your diaphragm move when you breathe. Breathe in and feel your stomach move, hold your chest till and keep your hand still. Contract your stomach muscles as you exhale. Repeat 10-15 times, until your abdominal muscles become tired.

Mistake #3

Smartphone posture: Everywhere you look you can see a person hunched over a smart phone or a computer screen. This posture causes your ribs to be pressed into your diaphragm, which can limit the range of motion available. In addition, this posture causes you to hold onto excess tension in your shoulders. You spend more time flexing your shoulders and upper back muscles in this position, and this increases shallow breathing.

What to do about it: Set a timer to ring every 15 minutes so that you have a reminder to check your posture and make adjustments. Be sure to straighten your spine and neck, drop your shoulders and relax your back. This will help to improve your respiration and give your diaphragm the room it needs to move properly. After you establish a habit of monitoring your posture, you will not have to set reminders for yourself because you will become more likely to fix the issue naturally.

Mistake #4

Breathing based on how stressed you are: When you are stressed, you are going to breathe more shallow, which can have unhealthy consequences. Chronic stress can lead to overeating, and eventual obesity. A study conducted at the University of Minnesota examined 12,000 people and discovered that those under high levels of stress tended to consume high fat diets. Stress and shallow breathing go hand in hand, and as you breathe shallow and build stress, you will be more likely to overindulge in high fat junk foods.

What to do about it: Take time to perform short meditations that can improve your breathing. Simple breathing exercises can improve your health and reduce your stress levels. Try inhaling for a full 4 seconds, then exhale for a full 4 seconds. Repeat 5 times, and perform this series regularly, especially when you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

Improving your breathing can improve your health. Take the steps today to make a difference.