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Most of us take breathing for granted, even though we may not be taking full advantage of this essential body function. During November, Lung Cancer Awareness Month, take time to appreciate your lungs by starting a deep breathing routine. Not only will the technique keep you performing at the top of your game, it can also help your mind and body in many other ways. So breathe in the benefits of deeper breathing.
First, get your breath in shape:
Focus on taking two breathing breaks every day, building from two 5-minute sessions to two 10-minute sessions. As you perform the exercise, engage your abdomen, not just your chest, in deep, slow and rhythmic movement. Some people find it beneficial to focus their eyes on a fixed point while doing this simple exercise.
1. Stand with good posture, but in a relaxed way, arms by your side.
2. Inhale through your nose for a count of five and feel the air expanding your belly then filling your chest.
3. Hold the air in and count to 3.
4. Part your lips slightly and exhale through your mouth for a count of 5.
Throughout the day, check yourself and be sure you’re breathing deeply. Over time, you’ll discover a range of benefits from breathing correctly, including:
- Body detox: Our body is designed to release 70% of our toxins through breathing. Exhaling releases carbon dioxide from your lungs – deeper exhaling releases even more.
- Tension release: Tension and stress cause us to take shallow breaths which decrease the amount of oxygen we take in. Remember to breathe deeper when you are stressed and you’ll feel the tension slip away.
- Mental clarity: Increasing the amount of oxygen to your brain helps you focus.
- Tip for teens: Before you begin that test in school, take some deep breaths to clear your head and focus on the task at hand.
- Emotional calm: Taking time for deep breaths can help clear uneasiness, nerves and fears.
- Pain relief: Breath into the areas of your body that hurt or feel tight (in other words, focus on those areas in your mind’s eye as you breath) and you’ll feel the pain ease and muscles relax.
- Organ massage: As the diaphragm moves down with deep breathing, it massages the stomach, small intestine, liver and pancreas; as it move up it massages the heart. The action also improves circulation in those vital organs.
- Stronger, more toned muscles: Your abdominal muscles get a workout from the expansion and contraction; the oxygen that gets into your blood strengthens your cells.
- Improved health and immunity: Oxygen helps your body metabolize nutrients and vitamins as it attached to the hemoglobin in your red blood cells. Deep breathing also removes carbon dioxide from your blood, and improves the quality of your blood.
- Stronger heart: Deep breathing leads to more efficient lungs which leads to more oxygen being sent to the heart through the bloodstream. That means your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to deliver oxygen to all your tissues. Better breathing also improves the pressure differential in the lungs, increasing circulation and decreasing stress on the heart.
- Better weight control: Extra oxygen burns up excess fat more efficiently for those who are overweight. It feeds tissues and glands for those who are underweight.
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