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Better breathing can reduce stress and increase energy, among many other benefits. How to breathe better tips and exercises can help you start breathing better today.
Breathing through your nose has many advantages. Because nostrils filter the air, it prevents particles and allergens from reaching your lungs. It also adds heat and moisture to make inhaling smoother, especially in cold or dry conditions.
Furthermore, breathing through your nose enables more oxygen to reach cells throughout the body. Breathing through your nose releases nitric oxide, which improves blood flow and gas exchanges in the lungs. In other words, nitric oxide release from nasal breathing facilitates inhaled oxygen entering arterial circulation and carbon dioxide leaving the venous circulation through exhaled air.
Stress, restrictive clothing, or bad posture can create a habit of breathing with your chest. As a result, your rib cage can't fully expand, and you take shallow breaths. Consequently, air doesn't reach the lower lobes of the lungs, where most blood flow occurs.
In other words, shallow breathing supplies less oxygen to the blood and causes poor nutrient delivery to your cells.
On the other hand, when you breathe with your belly*, you can breathe deeply and efficiently. As your abdomen expands, your diaphragm contracts downwards, which forces air into all four lobes of the lungs.
*You can place your hand on your abdomen and watch the rise and fall as you breathe.
Practicing to breathe better may be especially beneficial for someone suffering from a lung disease like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma. Sometimes they use other muscles, such as shoulder or neck muscles, to breathe. As a result, breathing is inefficient and requires more energy.
Similar to strengthening your body with exercise, you can train to improve your breathing. If you consciously change your breathing habits, it will develop on an unconscious level as well.
In addition to breathing exercises, a healthy lifestyle can improve lung function, including:
If you need more energy, alternate nostril breathing may help.
Several studies have found breathing exercises may be beneficial for physical health.
According to a 2009 study, breathing exercises may reduce blood pressure, while another suggests resonance breathing may lower heart rate.
Resonance breathing or six breaths per minute, activates the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve controls the nervous system. It's sometimes called the rest and digest nerve because it allows the body to move from fight or flight mode to a calm state.
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One of the best-known benefits of deep breathing is stress relief. Besides stimulating the vagus nerve, it reduces the impact of the stress hormone cortisol.
Additionally, you can combine this technique with muscle tensing and releasing to fall asleep faster. Tense all the muscles in your body and clench your fists as you inhale. Then relax as you exhale.
To sum up, the way you breathe impacts your health and well-being. Breathing exercises can help calm your mind and body, leading to a healthier, happier life. Your body is designed for breathing, so take full advantage of it!