Can Breathing Exercises Really Improve Your Wellness?
Plenty of serious health and wellness people tout breathing exercises, and if it’s something you’ve never personally explored it can feel somewhat silly. After all, breathing is the most natural thing we do, and it’s easy to presume you do a perfectly adequate job of taking in oxygen without having to do specific exercises. You might in fact ask yourself: can such exercises actually result in improved health and wellness?
The answer is a fairly definitive yes, with the following being some of the main potential benefits.
Lower Blood Pressure
Perhaps the clearest and most frequently mentioned benefit of breathing exercises is that your muscles relax. This sounds nice, but it actually has a more significant resulting benefit as well. As the muscles relax, blood vessels actually open up a little bit, and blood pressure can drop as a result. This is a healthy result in general, but also if you happen to be feeling tense or stressed at any given moment (which we’ll touch on more below).
Improved Mental Focus
We don’t often think of things in these terms, but put quite simply the brain needs a steady and adequate supply of oxygen to function as well as it ought to. Thus, when you try deep breathing exercises and take in more oxygen, you’re essentially fueling your brain to perform at an optimal level. That means improved focus in general, and in some cases a little bit more mental stamina or even boosted memory.
Subduing Negative Emotions
This is something we don’t hear as much about, but it surfaced recently in a piece about how competitive gamers can use breathing exercises to calm down. Breathing is referred to as one of the most powerful techniques for tackling frustration or anger, with the basic point being that deep breaths, increased oxygen flow, and a slower heart rate can actually chemically reduce stress. Thus, when you feel overwhelmed, frustrated, angry, or anything similar, you can turn to a breathing exercise for an immediate benefit via the calming of negative emotions.
This is almost a side benefit, but it’s still something a lot of people will enjoy knowing about. If you do deep breathing exercises properly you should be expanding and contracting your abdominal muscles from the inside, and this is actually a workout in and of itself. That’s not to say deep breathing is the key to six-pack abs, but over time it can strengthen your abs and your core even as it gives you the actual benefits of the breathing.
An article about deep breathing exercises aimed at smokers made the interesting move of calling breathing “the natural painkiller.” The explanation here is actually simple. Deep breathing releases endorphins throughout the body, and endorphins are basically designed to be the body’s natural response to pain. So if you’re having any general aches, pains, or soreness, deep breathing might actually help to ease them as you exercise.