man looking up with sunWhat are the most important things to keep in mind as you’re trying to maximize your workout? You may think of getting the right mix of cardio and muscle building exercises, or timing each of your workout activities perfectly, or making sure you’ve eaten well and hydrated before and after your exercise. And those are certainly all important factors. But the one that many people overlook is the fact that proper breathing during exercise is a must.

The Most Common Mistake

The biggest mistake people make during exercise is holding their breath. It’s a natural impulse to hold your breath during strenuous tasks as a way of trying to gain stillness and perspective. But this good impulse can turn out to be damaging and a definite deterrent to healthful exercise.

It may sound crazy, but you must learn to breathe in order to get the most out of your workouts. It’s common for people to breathe too quickly and shallowly, or too deeply, or at the wrong times so that it upsets the rhythm of your workout. Proper breathing during exercise requires practice and concentration. When your heart rate increases, your body and your muscles require more oxygen to work properly.

The Benefits of Proper Breathing

The best part of proper breathing during exercise is that you can quiet your mind, relax your body, and allow yourself to fall into a fantastic groove. When you achieve this place of balance, your performance increases as your mind opens up.

How Do You Know if You’re Breathing Well?

It should be pretty obvious if you’re not doing proper breathing during exercise. You may experience lightheadedness, dizziness, lack of concentration, and shortness of breath. Your mind won’t be able to keep up with your body, like trying to run an enormous muscle car on a tiny engine. Remember, everything should be connected; mind and body are to function as one unit. And breathing is the primary means of maintaining circulation and energy for sustained periods.

Breathing Tips You Can Use

diagram of human lungsFocus on your belly rather than your chest. If you try to think about the air filling up and emptying your belly, you’ll naturally do it in your lungs. Since your lungs don’t expand or contract in a noticeable way, it can be hard to regulate your breathing by thinking of your lungs.

Another trick is to count the seconds for each of your breaths. Try to regulate each inhale and exhale for a certain number of seconds. Focusing on proper breathing during exercise will naturally take your active mind off your exercise, allowing your muscle memory to take over as you achieve a place of mental and physical unity through breathing.

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