STRONG Idea: Just Breathe

By Emily Stapleton on March 04, 2013 from Strong Ideas via

More than 10 years ago, my mother-in-law and I saw a magazine in the checkout line at the supermarket.  The headline said something like, “Lose more than 20 pounds by breathing deeply.” My mother-in-law said, do you think that could work?  I immediately responded, “absolutely not.  You have to move, I mean really move to lose weight.”  Being the exercise enthusiast that I am, I discounted that magazine without a second thought.
I’ve learned a lot since that day in the supermarket.  I remain an exercise enthusiast, but do value the benefits of deep breathing. So let’s take a journey through my deep breathing experiences.
Following the supermarket incident, I continued to participate in group fitness classes. I have attended everything from step aerobics to kick-boxing to yoga. Most of the instructors had something to say about breathing during the exercise or during the cool down phase.  I paid little attention. I continued to move as fast as I could and judged my progress by how out of breath I was.
Fast forward to a few years past the supermarket incident -- the birth of my first child, Joseph.  Like many new moms, I practiced breathing exercises before and during the birth process. This breathing felt good, but I gave little thought as to how it could benefit someone not carrying another human being.
After my second child, Anna, was born, I underwent some physical therapy. My therapist is the person I credit with teaching me how to breathe. Yes, I know breathing is innate and natural, but she really taught me how to breathe and feel the benefits of deep breathing.  I learned that it could also be called diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, and belly breathing. I still just call it…Take a Deep Breath.
Though my PT sessions are long over, I continue deep breathing exercises in my everyday life. I use deep breathing for relaxation, during exercise, stress management, and a host of other things. 
Anyone who is a participant in STRONG classes that I lead, knows that deep breathing is a very important part of the program. Yes, I still encourage people to move as fast and far as they can and judge some progress by how out of breath they are. However, deep breathing has become an integral part of both the cool-down and warm-up phase of my program.
When I’m breathing deeply, I often remember that day in the supermarket.  Can deep breathing really cause someone to lose 20 pounds?  Deep breathing is not a substitute for a healthy lifestyle; it is part of it.  Along with exercise and healthy food choices, deep breathing should be on of your healthy practices.
How Do You Breath Deeply?

Take a deep breath in through your nose and feel your abdomen expand.  Hold in the air inside your body for a few seconds. Then release the air through your mouth and feel your abdomen shrink.  As an added bonus, think about contracting your stomach muscles and pulling your belly button in as the air exits your body. Pretty simple, right? 
How Deep Breathing Can Help You:

• Relax injured and tight muscles
• Relieve anxiety
• Speed recovery of muscles during the cool-down phase of exercise
• Relieve tension
• Relieve physical pain
• Aid weight loss – proper oxygen intake helps the body burn calories
• And much more
Your Homework:

Try taking 5 to 10 deep breaths when you are trying to relax. I do this most nights when I lay down to go to sleep. In addition, anytime you feel yourself getting stressed, stop and take 2 deep breaths. I am the mother of three children and a small business owner, I use this one A LOT. When you are exercising, try taking deep breaths during the cool-down phase.  I use this with my own workouts and when I teach others. I love to feel my heart rate begin to recover and am always amazed at how much more flexible my muscles are during a deep breath.
Take a few seconds to respond to this post and let us know how deep breathing works for you. And if you want to encourage your friends to benefit from deep breathing, share the link on facebook.
Until next week,

Connect Bridgeport
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