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Reap the Benefits of Controlled Breathing

By Paul Rothbart

As everyone on the planet knows, breathing is essential to life. Stop breathing, and you die. It's that simple. Since most of our breathing is done subconsciously, we tend to take it for granted. Yes, the main purpose of breathing is to provide the body with oxygen. But breathing can provide more benefits than you may know. Controlled breathing, performed with an awareness, in particular, can be very helpful. Here is some information about controlled breathing and its benefits. 

What Is Controlled Breathing?

Controlled breathing is a simple idea and easy to perform. It is being aware of our breath and inhaling and exhaling deeply and slowly. Lie or sit down and get comfortable. Inhale slowly and deeply, feeling your belly rise and completely filling your lungs. Then exhale slowly, counting to five. If you do this four times, you will calm your nervous system. By practicing controlled breathing regularly, you can reduce stress, increase your alertness, and boost your immune system. This is only the beginning.

Fight Anxiety and Depression

Controlled breathing signals the brain to slow the heart rate and this helps calm you down. The body controls the stress hormone, cortisol, better. Relaxation and reduced stress can lessen anxiety and help manage depression. A 12-week study of people who practiced both yoga and controlled breathing showed that their depressive symptoms decreased significantly. 

Immune System

A study conducted at the Medical University of South Carolina divided a group of 20 adults into two groups of 10. One group spent 10 minutes doing breathing exercises while the other spent 20 minutes reading a favorite book. The saliva of each subject was tested periodically. The researchers found that the group that practiced breathing had lower levels of the chemicals that cause inflammation and stress in their saliva. This may aid digestion and help boost the immune system. 

Energize

Controlled breathing can also energize you. Greater levels of oxygen help the body burn more fuel and stimulate the brain. You can then work more efficiently and with more stamina. This is a better way to get an energy boost in the mid-afternoon than taking an energy drink that will do more harm than good. Controlled breathing is also a good way to start the day and is helpful any time you are feeling stressed and need to calm down and get centered. 

Breathing is a habit that starts at birth. We do it all day every day. But by practicing controlled breathing on a regular basis, you can get so much more out of each breath than oxygen. Give it a try and you may just improve your quality of life. 

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Port Orange, Fla.

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