Why Poor Breathing Habits Can Seriously Hurt Your Workout

Personal trainers remind us to do this throughout the whole training session. And entire yoga practices can be devoted to doing this. But for many of us, the way we breathe is done on autopilot, in what we assume is the correct way. In fact, when was the last time you considered that you may be doing it wrong? In and out, in and out, right? Technically yes. But when you exercise, you may notice that the way your breath starts to change.

According to the Breathe journal, the heart and the lungs kick into overdrive when you're running a marathon or just going for a light jog around your neighborhood. To carry on with this extra demand, your breathing will typically increase from 15 times a minute to 40-60 times a minute. The quickened repetitions can lead to some unnoticed bad habits. Though luckily, recognizing that you may have picked up one or more of these poor breathing practices during your workout is the first step to correcting the issue.

Breathing correctly while lifting can prevent injury

First, let's discuss what can happen to your breath during strength training. "Most commonly, people hold their breath through a movement," says Belisa Vranich, a clinical psychologist and fitness expert, to Oxygen. Adding, "You'll see folks who are ... bracing their belly so much in an attempt to take care of their spines that they're not actually breathing at all. They're just sipping in air."

Fitness Nation reminds us that oxygen should be circulating throughout our body and muscles throughout the whole workout in order to protect us from an injury. So be aware of not holding your breath. Instead take in a breath in when you lower the weight and release it slowly as you lift the weight. "The exhale aids with the contraction of the muscles, and the inhale aids with lengthening of the muscles," says Jen Esquer, a doctor of physical therapy, to Oxygen.

The same goes with cardio-heavy activities such as running, swimming, and playing tennis. To cope with the additional workload on the heart and lungs, you may start to take quicker and shorter breaths. But Self warns that this shallow method of breathing can lead to both increases in heart rate and blood pressure.

The right breathing techniques can lead to more effective workouts

When we exercise, we want to concentrate on our posture, the beautiful scenery, or absolutely nothing and just let our minds wander. But your PT and yoga teacher are correct in reminding you to breathe and to breathe correctly. So why is it so important to focus on something that happens so unconsciously? Self states that the right breathing techniques are so essential because they can directly affect the quality of your workout. Simply put, proper breathing can lead to lifting heavier amounts and having better endurance during cardio workouts. If you do notice a problem, don't wait to seek medical advice. The Breathe journal recommends visiting a doctor if you notice symptoms that may be signs of a lung issue such as coughing, extreme fatigue, or an unexplained shortness of breath.

Breathing in and out, and in and out, may seem like the most natural repetition in the world. But if you take the time to make sure you're doing it correctly, the benefits will be worth it.