Not everyone breathes in a manner that facilitates good health. Diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis and emphysema are some of the more common manifestations of a compromised breathing system. When proper breathing is emphasized, many disorders of the respiratory system may be prevented. When breathing is at its best, the possibility exist that other systems of the body are more likely to be made more productive. A good example of this is the increased oxidative capacity of the body. Proper breathing will facilitate an increase in the amount of oxygen that is consumed. This increase will cause an increase in the oxidation (burning) of food. The outcome will be an individual who is more energized, more fit and healthier.
Proper breathing is slow, deep (diaphragmatic) and rhythmic. It is best carried out with the following points in mind:
• Unless the body is in need of oxygen and needs it quickly, such as when a runner is “out-of-breath,” you should avoid breathing through your mouth. Nose breathing is healthier and more efficient.
• Always ensure that you are breathing quietly, slowly, deeply and rhythmically through your nose.
• When breathing correctly, the region of the abdomen (not the chest) will be most active. The following exercise should help you achieve this.
Breathing Exercise No. 1Sitting comfortably in a chair, place your left hand on your chest and the right on your abdomen. Breathing slowly, deeply and rhythmically, notice your hands as you inhale and exhale. If you are breathing correctly (diaphragmatically), only the hand resting on your abdomen should move. If your hand on the chest moves as you breathe, you are breathing thoracically and should pay more attention to deeper (abdominal) breathing. When you place the hands on your chest and abdomen, they should rest gently and not be forced.
Breathing Exercise No. 2Perform the above exercise, but this time, instead of trying to determine which part of the body moves (abdomen or chest), you will now determine what happens to the body as you inhale and exhale. When you are breathing correctly, the abdomen should expand (rise) when you inhale and contract (fall) when you exhale.
For information on proper breathing and other aspects or areas of fitness and holistic health, contact the Cultural Center of Charlotte County’s Fitness Center at 941-625-4175, Ext. 263, or visit the Fitness Center at 2280 Aaron St., Port Charlotte.