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Don't Forget to Breathe!

Don't Forget to Breathe!

Why do I need to breathe?
How can changing the way I breathe help me?
How does breathing help with stress?

The idea of forgetting to breathe probably sounds pretty silly. You're breathing right now without even thinking about it, right? But you may find yourself holding your breath when you're doing abdominal crunches. Or maybe you stop breathing for a moment when you're about to shoot a free throw. Well, breathing is more than air going in and out of your body. The way you breathe can affect how well you perform an exercise. It can even affect the way you feel. back to top

Why do I need to breathe?
Breathing is part of your cardiorespiratory system, which delivers oxygen to your blood cells. When you do cardiorespiratory exercises, like walking, running, swimming, or jumping rope, your blood cells need more oxygen. As you exercise more and more often, two things will happen:
  • Your blood cells will be able to carry more oxygen.
  • Your body will get better at using oxygen, which means you can exercise longer and harder before becoming pooped.
Not only do these blood cells deliver oxygen to your body, but they also deliver it to your brain. And you wouldn't want to deny your brain oxygen, would you? back to top

How can changing the way I breathe help me?
Being aware of how you're breathing can help both your mind and your body. Not only is deep breathing a great stress buster, but your workouts will get better when you focus on your breathing. Just ask any girl who practices yoga. Try some of these breathing techniques:
  • When strength training, exhale through your mouth when you lift a weight and inhale through your nose when you lower the weight. This helps deliver oxygen to your muscles, and it can help you get into a good rhythm, so you're not working too fast or too slow.
  • When stretching, take two deep breaths while you hold the stretch. If you tend to rush through your stretches, counting your breaths can help slow you down and help you hold the stretch long enough. And your muscles will really appreciate all that oxygen! back to top
How does breathing help with stress?
Your body automatically changes the way you breathe whenever you're stressed out or scared. Think of the last time you were angry or upset about something that happened at school or home. Did your breathing speed up and become shallow? You may not have noticed it at the time, but that change in your breathing made you feel worse. That's because your body wasn't getting as much oxygen as it was used to. The next time you feel yourself going into panic mode, try taking long, deep breaths. Count each breath until you reach 10. This can help you clear your head and handle the stress and anxiety you feel. back to top

Last Modified Date: 3/28/2001
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