Places Pointer: Three benefits of breathing exercises

Take a deep breath!

Breathing is pretty important. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for our lungs and the oxygen that surrounds us!

But we often take our breathing for granted. A simple process that our entire life depends on. Lifestyle and time restraints have pushed people to breathe passively, without bringing attention to their breath.

If you’re a gym-goer or have ever found yourself in a yoga class, you have probably utilised breathwork and realise its importance in guiding you both physically and mentally. So, what exactly can we do as we go about our daily lives and how will it help us?

Here are three ways that breathing can improve our health and wellbeing…

Manage stress and calm anxiety

Deep breathing is a technique that psychologists swear by to manage stressful situations and calm feelings of anxiety. As it increases oxygen levels to the brain and brings our heart rate to normal, this signals the brain to calm down, feel more positive and process thoughts more easily. As breathing exercises increase memory, concentration and cognitive function, the likelihood of brain fog is also diminished – reducing the negative effects bought on by stress and anxiety.

Sources: Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response - Harvard Health | How Breath-Control Can Change Your Life: A Systematic Review on Psycho-Physiological Correlates of Slow Breathing - PMC (nih.gov)

Improves sleep hygiene

Sleep is the foundation of health and wellbeing. Diet, exercise, and general health rely on proper sleep to perform and function at optimum levels. Deep breathing signals to the brain to calm down and has been shown to result in melatonin production – an essential sleep-inducing hormone which promotes relaxation. Try deep breathing exercises every night before bed so that your body adopts a routine to relax.

Sources: How Breath-Control Can Change Your Life: A Systematic Review on Psycho-Physiological Correlates of Slow Breathing - PMC (nih.gov) | Melatonin - PubMed (nih.gov)

Strengthens the body and joints

Yogis will know that breathing into certain physical poses has powers that go beyond the physical. When we bring attention to our breath, the body has the power to breathe deeply into a stretch or pose. Similarly, air fuels our muscles to guide us to bear heavier weights during weightlifting positions. When it comes to long-term effects, more oxygen to joints allows cells to repair more easily and preserve more muscle – also contributing to the appearance of healthier, glowing skin!

Sources: Comparison of the effects of joint mobilization, gym ball exercises, and breathing exercises on breathing pattern disorders and joint position sense in persons with chronic low back pain (jptrs.org) | Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercises - Physiopedia (physio-pedia.com)

Click here to try these simple breathing exercises from the NHS

Click here to see how to engage your diaphragm to perform diaphragmatic (deep) breathing

Sources:

Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response - Harvard Health | How Breath-Control Can Change Your Life: A Systematic Review on Psycho-Physiological Correlates of Slow Breathing - PMC (nih.gov)How Breath-Control Can Change Your Life: A Systematic Review on Psycho-Physiological Correlates of Slow Breathing - PMC (nih.gov) | Melatonin - PubMed (nih.gov) | Comparison of the effects of joint mobilization, gym ball exercises, and breathing exercises on breathing pattern disorders and joint position sense in persons with chronic low back pain (jptrs.org) | Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercises - Physiopedia (physio-pedia.com)