Shortness of breath is the uncomfortable feeling of your body unable to get in oxygen. Often experienced when moving uphill, lifting objects off the ground, running, or for some even sitting. There are many underlying causes to shortness of breath, on the bright side there are healthy ways to improve the quality of your breathing.
What can causes shortness of breath?
Most people who experience this uneasy feeling can mange it through appropriate breathing techniques and exercises. If you ever experience breathlessness that is brought on suddenly by no obvious reasons, it’s best to seek the advice of a qualified physician. This is especially true if your shortness of breath is accompanied by chest pain, nausea, dizziness, or fainting. Below are a some of the conditions you will want to seek medical supervision.
- Panic Attack
- Chronic Lung Diseases such as COPD, Asthma, Pulmonary Hypertension
- Low Blood Pressure
- Heart Disease
However, when shortness of breath is brought about by poor physical conditioning, there are healthy habits you will want to focus on to improve the power of your breath.
Why you should strengthen your breath
It’s amazing that something as simple as breathing can drastically affect your health. For example, poor breathing mechanics can lead to secondary respiratory muscles overworking to bring in more oxygen in the body. These secondary muscles include the scalene muscles in the neck and the upper trappezius muscles. Where do you think most people experience tightness when they are stressed? That’s right, in there neck and shoulders.
Tension in this area of the body also impacts our posture, which can limit the amount of oxygen we are able to take in. You can even test this out for yourself. Try breathing in with your shoulders rounded forward, then compare that to breathing in with straight posture. Did you feel how much air you were able to take in with your posture more straight? The lack of O2 in the body leads to poor concentration and energy levels. This explains why so many people today reach for high sugar foods and caffeinated drinks for a pick me up. What they are really in need of is some good old oxygen!
By learning how to improve your breath, you will experience noticeable changes in your health and energy.
Try these tips:
Exercise Frequently- As mentioned of the most common reasons for shortness of breath is not having an optimal level of physical fitness. This is observed more in individuals who sit throughout the day and don’t get enough movement. You don’t need to cross fit to see noticeable changes. Selecting exercises you enjoy can help you breathe better. Consider activities such as biking, gardening, jogging, swimming, or even more brisk walks throughout the day. If you need help selecting appropriate exercises for your fitness level, consider connecting with a health and fitness coach.
Eat a healthy diet- Very few consider how nutrition plays a role in our ability to breathe optimally. What we put in our mouths does have an impact none the less. Eating a diet high in refined sugar can cause blood sugar imbalances. One of the symptoms of chronic blood sugar imbalances is faulty breathing. In addition, foods that cause immune reaction in the body can lead to excess mucus production, creating difficulty breathing through the nose. When you eat a diet that that is healthy for your body while avoiding processed foods, you create the right internal environment for you to breathe better.
Improve your posture- As demonstrated earlier, you won’t be able to get a full breath if you have poor posture. You can improve this just by being more aware of how your body is positioned. For example, right now what does your posture look like as you are reading this? Do you have your head tilted far forward looking down at your smart phone or are you slouching in a chair? Sit or stand up tall and practice proper alignment. You can also strengthen the tonic muscles that aid in good posture by practicing certain exercises such as prone cobras.
3 Breathing Methods You Can Do Today
Alternate Nostril Breathing
- Close the right nostril with your right thumb and inhale through your left side.
- Close the left nostril with your right ring finger and release the right thumb
- Exhale through through the right nostril, keep the left side closed
- Inhale through the right nostril, close it with the thumb
- Release the ring finger from left side and exhale through the left nostril
- Repeat as long as needed
- Inhale and exhale through the nose
- Breathe in for a 4 second count
- Exhale for a 6-8 second count
- Repeat as long as needed
- Inhale through your nose and exhale slowly through the mouth
- As you exhale, pretend you are trying to fog up a mirror (your mouth stays closed). The breath resonated from the back of the throat and will exit out the nostrils.
- Imagine making a “haaa” sound
- Take a slow deep inhale, repeating the exhale following the steps above.
Know you are more aware of the many underlying reasons to why you may experience short of breath. Breathing not only impacts your ability to complete daily tasks, it’s vital to your overall health. By introducing healthier habits into your life you can enhance your breathing mechanics and improve the way you feel. Start a breathing practice today using one or all of the exercises we share above.
P.S Are you experiencing health challenges due to breathing? Have you tried multiple things to increase your energy levels and improve your sleep? You are not alone.
Breath equals life. And you should be able to breathe your best. That’s why we offer wellness services to help you identify the breathing function and teach you better ways to breathe through exercise and meditation.
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