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How we breathe affects our Health

How we breathe affects our Health – Asthma, Snoring, Sleep Apnea, Anxiety and Exercise Induced Asthma are all connected to how we breathe.

Breathing is the most vital act that our body automatically carries out on average 20,000 times a day or 7.3 million times a year! It is so basic to our survival that most of us never consider that anything can be changed about the way we breathe.
If it feels like we don’t get enough air what can we do? If we are wheezing and coughing all the time isn’t that just the way we are? If we are tired in the morning and have been snoring all night surely we will just have to tolerate it, as will our partners?

Each person breathes on average 20,000 times a day but for many the act of breathing is filled with stress and anxiety. Many people complain that they are “shallow” breathing, that they are not getting enough air, that they are constantly wheezing, that they snore or have sleep apnea and are exhausted when they wake up. For many, exercise, especially vigorous exercise like running or cycling can be stressful. Most runners complain that their breathing lets them down long before their legs give in when pushing themselves in a race. Poor breathing habits and anxiety go hand in hand.

The good news is that our breathing patterns can be re-trained. Although our breathing can feel like an automatic, unconscious drive that we have no control over, we can, with a bit of perseverance gain control and mastery over our breathing. The results are far reaching for our health. Calmer, quieter breathing can replace anxious breathing. Genuinely deep, relaxed breathing can replace shallow, upper chest breathing. Wheezing can be controlled, sleep quality improved and exercising can be the enjoyable, relaxing activity it should be. All this affects our energy levels and sense of well-being.

BREATHING TIPS – How to help yourself right now

(a)
Pay attention to how we are breathing during the day. Try to calm and reduce the volume of air that we breathe. If we are watching T.V for example and we can hear our breathing this is a sign that we are breathing too much. Healthy breathing is calm, quiet, effortless and relaxed.ALWAYS BREATHE THROUGH THE NOSE

(b) Switch to breathing through our nose only during exercise. This may involve slowing down at first but exercise becomes much more enjoyable and in the long term we will be able to go faster. Let the nose be your guide when it comes to the speed of our run, cycle or workout. If we feel like we need to switch to mouth breathing we are going too fast! Maybe start with a daily walk with mouth closed then build it up to walk/jog.

Following the full breathing re-training programme can greatly improve health and well-being.