I’m constantly asked questions like…
“What’s the best workout?”
“What’s the best piece of equipment in the gym?”, or
“What are the 5 most important exercises?”
Unfortunately, there aren’t easy answers to questions like these because truthfully, the answer to all of them is, “it depends”. It depends on the person doing the workout and their goals. It depends on the person using the equipment and their goals, and (you guessed it), it depends on the person doing the exercise and their goals. So, whenever I’m asked questions like these, I respond with,
“It depends… BUT if you want something that doesn’t ‘depend’, I’ve got ‘5 Ways to Instantly Improve Health’, and the best part is all 5 are free.”
In this blog post, the first of a 5 part series, we will discuss the first way to instantly improve your health & fitness:
“Shut Your Mouth, and Breathe”
Whether in the gym, on the field, or in the mountains, the things we do most often impact us the most, and breathing is no different. The average person takes about 23,000 breaths per day. That’s a lot of hot air. Simply based on volume, any dysfunction in that breathing has the power to completely ruin your health, wellness, and happiness. Poor breathing patterns will raise your stress levels, attack your immune system, and even destroy the quality of your sleep. The most common form of dysfunctional breathing is over-breathing. In fancy terms, over-breathing means taking in too little oxygen (shallow inhale), and dumping too much carbon-dioxide (large exhale). In less fancy terms, over-breathing means, breathing through your mouth too much. Lucky for you, there is another alternative: The nose. The nose is a perfectly designed mechanism for the job. First, the nose filters air, eliminating anything that may attack the immune system. Breathing through your nose also activates your diaphragm, which is a muscle in your abdomen that creates space for your lungs to expand as they fill with air. The increased real-estate in your core allows the lungs to make the best of the air you’ve brought into town via your nose. Lastly, the nose limits the amount of Carbon-Dioxide (waste) we expel when we’re done with our breath of air. Limiting the amount of CO2 that we burn off with each exhale helps keep us relaxed, as it sends a “Diaphragm and Chill” message to the brain. Thus, better management of CO2 burn-off will improve your resting heart rate by keeping you in an efficient and calm state, both physically and mentally.
Basically, the nose is the safest, and MOST efficient way to breathe, so start letting it do its job, and shut your mouth and BREATHE!
Next time around, we’re going to talk about the second way to instantly improve your health: “Mind Your Posture”.In the meantime, here is a simple down-regulation protocol that you can use for any of the following:
- Calm yourself when you are feeling stressed
- Kick-start your recovery after a hard workout- Prepare your body and mind for sleep
Set a timer for 5-10 min.
All breathing will be done through the nose.
Each breath will have 3 components as follows:
- Inhale on a 4-5 second count
- Hold, with air in lungs for 4-5 seconds
- Exhale on a 8-10 second count
Enjoy the Zen & Stay Human