Fitness Facts: Just take a deep breath

By Connie Colbert
GCU Director of Health Services

Do you ever find yourself being so busy you forget to breathe? Does an exhausting day take your breath away? Do you ever have a sigh of relief?

Connie Colbert

Did you know that breathing, especially taking a deep breath throughout the day, can have health benefits?

Deep breathing can:

  • Decrease stress and increase your feeling of calm. When you deep breathe, your brain releases a stress hormone call cortisol, your heart rate slows and more oxygen is released into your bloodstream. All these in combination communicate to your brain to relax.
  • Can help reduce pain because of the release of endorphins. That’s the chemical that can help you “feel good.”
  • Stimulate the release of toxins in your body
  • Improve immune response by absorbing vitamins and minerals and other illness fighting substances throughout your body
  • Increase energy
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve digestion
  • Help support correct posture

Tips on deep breathing

Deep breathing should be slow and gentle. Fill the abdomen, not just the chest.

More information from WebMD:

Many breathing exercises take only a few minutes. When you have more time, you can do them for 10 minutes or more to get even greater benefits.

Most people take short, shallow breaths into their chest. It can make you feel anxious and zap your energy. With this technique, you'll learn how to take bigger breaths, all the way into your belly.

  • Get comfortable. You can lie on your back in bed or on the floor with a pillow under your head and knees. Or you can sit in a chair with your shoulders, head and neck supported against the back of the chair.
  • Breathe in through your nose. Let your belly fill with air.
  • Breathe out through your nose.
  • Place one hand on your belly. Place the other hand on your chest.
  • As you breathe in, feel your belly rise. As you breathe out, feel your belly lower. The hand on your belly should move more than the one on your chest.
  • Take three more full, deep breaths. Breathe fully into your belly as it rises and falls with your breath.

Once you feel comfortable with breaths that last five counts, increase how long you breathe in and breathe out. You can work up to breaths that last up to 10 counts.

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Bible Verse

Be not afraid, O land (of Judah); be glad and rejoice. Surely the Lord has done great things. (Joel 2:21)

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