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Is this most important exercise missing from your workout?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Mar 15, 2015
4.8 / 5(4 Ratings)
Quick Bites

  • Breathing decreases anxiety and depression.
  • It increases happiness and optimism.
  • You sleep better when you breathe after workouts.
  • It strengthens our ability to regulate emotions.

More

Most people today believe that in order for a workout to be any good, it has to be “intense” or “killer.” But what if all this intensity isn’t necessarily the best thing for us? What if it’s actually getting in your way, robbing you of the results you’re so desperately looking for?

Diaphragmatic breathing—slow, deep breaths that fill your belly—isn’t sexy. It’s not killer or hardcore or badass, but it's a necessity for health and performance.

Why? Geoff Neupert, a certified RKC and StrongFirst master kettlebell instructor, talks to Men’s Health about the importance of breathing through a story of one of his clients.

Breathing Exercise

A Life Saved by Breathing

One of his clients, whom he prefers to call Mike, went through a “hell on earth” year. His wife was alcoholic and anaemic, and was days away from death. His business partner had emptied his bank account, leaving him holding all of the business liabilities. Mike didn’t crumble, but saying he was stressed out would be an understatement.

Mike also trained with Geoff three times a week and because his body was already stressed out to the max, they didn’t do any “killer” workouts. Instead, they did easy strength workout, and most of the times they did the “magic exercise.” What did they do? They just lay on floor and breathe. That’s it.

Health Benefits of Breathing

Breathing is the very first thing you do when you’re born and it’s the last thing you do before you die. It must be important. Really important!

It balances out your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, allowing your body to function more optimally. It helps reduce the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which are more often than not elevated due to stress-filled work environments and a lack of sleep. It's also been reported that diaphragmatic breathing:

  • Helps lower blood pressure, and therefore the risk of heart disease

 

Benefits of Breathing Exercise

  • Helps lower blood sugar, and therefore the risk of diabetes
  • Releases serotonin, which not only makes you feel good, but can reduce cravings for processed carbohydrates and other junk food
  • Eliminates free radicals from the body, improving cellular function and lifespan
  • Increases the secretion of growth hormone and slows the aging process
  • Improves mental focus and clarity by increasing blood flow to the pre-frontal cortex of your brain
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Facilitates weight loss by balancing stress hormones with anabolic hormones


As you can see, there are some important benefits to regularly practicing diaphragmatic breathing. You can do it to replace a workout when you're overly stressed like Mike did, or you can do it at the end of your workout.

Images: Getty

Read more articles on Exercise and Fitness.

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