Monday, August 18, 2014

“In the end it's not about how many breaths you took. 
In the end it's about the moments that took your breath away.” 
― Volksweisheitheit

Breathing While Exercising

If exercise is basically movement carried to a higher level of intensity, doesn't breathing change too? Yes, definitely, because you are placing an increased load on the body and when you do that, you'll have an increased heart rate, a higher demand for oxygen, and numerous other changes that occur. Some inexperienced trainees start an exercise by holding their breath, as if they were going to dive into water and swim beneath the surface.  Maybe that's for fish to do but not for a human needing a flow of air!

Holding one's air is called a Valsalva maneuver and can result in a dangerous jump in blood pressure and sometimes even bursting some of the blood vessels in your eyes and brain.  This can result in visual disturbances and headaches.  If you are a heavy lifter of weights, sometimes a temporary hold of breathing is natural.  It may result in only minor and transient increased blood pressure.  But experienced weight lifters know that a Valsalva maneuver can be harmful if carried out for longer periods of time and so they may do it only for a short time.  

As a general rule you should breathe out on the hardest  part of the movement and in when the easiest stage of the movement occurs.  To state the general rule, exhale while lifting and inhale when lowering the weight.  On the other hand, two stalwarts on strength training, namely Dr. Stuart McGill and the late Dr. Mel Siff, stated that "careful instruction as to the technique of a given exercise will automatically result in the body responding with the optimal muscle recruitment strategy throughout the duration  of the movement."  My interpretation - follow the general rule, always exhale on exertion and inhale on the easier stage of the exercise.  The important point is to allow a constant inflow and outflow of air as the intensity increases without holding your breathe for extended periods of time.

Another method of breathing that worked for me when I used to jog was to breathe in and out in cadence with the song by Disney, "It's A Small World"

it's a world of laughter, a world or tears
its a world of hopes, its a world of fear
theres so much that we share
that its time we're aware
its a small world after all

its a small world after all
its a small world after all
its a small world after all
its a small, small world

There is just one moon and one golden sun 
And a smile means friendship to everyone. 
Though the mountains divide 
And the oceans are wide 
It's a small small world